Concentrating Solar Power: Best Practices Handbook for the Collection and Use of Solar Resource Data (CSP)

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


As the world looks for low-carbon sources of energy, solar power stands out as the most abundant energy resource. Harnessing this energy is the challenge for this century. Photovoltaics and concentrating solar power (CSP) are two primary forms of electricity generation using sunlight. These use different technologies, collect different fractions of the solar resource, and have different sitingand production capabilities. Although PV systems are most often deployed as distributed generation sources, CSP systems favor large, centrally located systems. Accordingly, large CSP systems require a substantial investment, sometimes exceeding $1 billion in construction costs. Before such a project is undertaken, the best possible information about the quality and reliability of the fuel sourcemust be made available. That is, project developers need to have reliable data about the solar resource available at specific locations to predict the daily and annual performance of a proposed CSP plant. Without these data, no financial analysis is possible. This handbook presents detailed information about solar resource data and the resulting data products needed for each stage of the project.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages146
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-550-47465


  • concentrating solar power (CSP)
  • CSP
  • electricity generation
  • photovoltaic
  • PV
  • solar resources
  • sunlight


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