The prospect of high temperature solid state energy conversion to reduce the cost of concentrated solar power
The primary challenges in making renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels for utility scale electricity are to reduce the levelized cost and enable dispatchable power delivery. In this respect concentrated solar power (CSP) with thermal storage could play an important role, since the cost of thermal storage is lower than that of electrochemical batteries. CSP, however, is still expensive and a number of ongoing research efforts are targeted at reducing the cost via a number of technological development pathways. Here, we present a simplified cost model for CSP and show that increasing the temperature of the heat delivered to the power cycle is a potential pathway to reduce the cost. We also propose that solid state energy converters, possibly in combination with traditional turbines, provide additional advantages that can enable high temperature CSP systems with a lower levelized cost of electricity.