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STUDY DETERMINES THAT THE LEVELED COST OF ENERGY IN A HYBRID SOLAR PLANT (PV AND CSP) IS LESS THAN IN A NATURAL GAS THERMOELECTRIC PLANT

2021.02.25     From: acsp

A study developed by researchers from the Center for Solar Energy Technologies of Fraunhofer Chile proposes, after a comparative analysis, that the optimal configuration for the various energy production scenarios for the national electricity grid and with the lowest Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) , can be achieved in a hybrid solar plant (photovoltaic and CSP with storage).



The energy sector in Chile calls for a significant increase in renewable energy sources in the near future, and concentrated solar energy technologies are increasingly competitive compared to natural gas plants. Motivated by this scenario, a team of researchers from the Center for Solar Energy Technologies of Fraunhofer Chile (FCR CSET), developed a comparison between solar technologies, such as hybrid plants, and thermal technologies based on natural gas, concluding that The most competitive configuration in terms of Levelized Cost of Energy corresponds to a hybrid plant that combines photovoltaic solar energy and Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) with integrated thermal storage.


The principal investigator of this analysis, Catalina Hernández Moris, explained that both technologies share several characteristics that are comparable and beneficial for the electricity grid. “It is relevant to examine the attributes of each of the technologies in the current energy transition scenario. We know that the main objective is to move towards a cleaner matrix. On the one hand, gas is less polluting than coal bunkers, but what are the other variables that must be considered to achieve this goal? It is here where - based on the cost structure and its attributes - that hybrid plants take on relevance ”, the researcher highlighted.


It should be noted that this comparison was made from an economic point of view using the Leveled Cost of Energy (LCOE) metric and in terms of the systemic benefits related to flexibility, much needed due to the current decarbonization scenario of the energy matrix in Chile. .


Results projection


 The study, published in the Energies Magazine, shows that the LCOE of the four hybrid plant models for a CSP plant with 13 h of storage studied is lower than the LCOE of the gas plant. A solar hybrid plant configuration composed of a photovoltaic plant and a solar tower (STP) with 13 h of storage and without generation restrictions has an LCOE of 53 USD / MWh, while the natural gas technology evaluated with a plant factor 85% and a variable cost of fuel of 2.0 USD / MMBtu has an LCOE of 86 USD / MWh.


"Hybrid solar plants, under certain conditions, are more profitable than their closest competitor for the Chilean grid, as well as providing significant flexibility and dispatch capacity," complemented the researcher and Photovoltaic Systems Leader, Aloïs Salmon, who highlighted the need to advance in an energy transition towards a more sustainable electricity grid.


Reducing the environmental impact


As explained by the Leader of Solar Thermal Systems, María Teresa Cerda, “CSP technology provides very similar systemic benefits, while avoiding significant negative externalities, compared to gas plants, and is more profitable. In particular, CSP is very flexible, has no emissions, and is not dependent on external markets for fuel supply. In short, it is a renewable energy that can contribute to reduce the price of the grid and provide a base load and flexible electricity for Chile ”.



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