Concentrating Solar Power Gen3 Demonstration Roadmap

Mark Mehos, Craig Turchi, Michael Wagner, Zhiwen Ma, Clifford Ho, Alan Kruizenga, William Kolb, Charles Andraka

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Today's power-tower concentrating solar power (CSP) technology exists in large part as a result of Department of Energy (DOE) and utility industry funding of demonstration systems in the 1980s and 1990s. Today's most advanced towers are integrated with molten-salt thermal energy storage, delivering thermal energy at 565 degrees C for integration with conventional steam-Rankine cycles. The supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle has been identified as a likely successor to the steam-Rankine power cycle due to its potential for high efficiency when operating at elevated temperatures of 700 degrees C or greater. Over the course of the SunShot Initiative, DOE has supported a number of technology pathways that can operate efficiently at these temperatures and that hold promise to be reliable and cost effective. Three pathways - molten salt, particle, and gaseous - were selected for further investigation based on a two-day workshop held in August of 2016. The information contained in this roadmap identifies research and development challenges and lays out recommended research activities for each of the three pathways. DOE foresees that by successfully addressing the challenges identified in this roadmap, one or more technology pathways will be positioned for demonstration and subsequent commercialization within the next ten years. Based on current knowledge of the three power tower technologies, all three have the potential to achieve the SunShot goal of 6 cents/kilowatt-hour. Further development, modeling, and testing are now required to bring one or more of the technologies to a stage where integrated system tests and pilot demonstrations are feasible.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages140
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-67464


  • concentrating solar power
  • demonstration roadmap
  • gas-phase receiver
  • molten salt receiver
  • particle receiver
  • technology gaps


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