CSP Gen3: Liquid-Phase Pathway to SunShot

Craig Turchi, Samuel Gage, Janna Martinek, Sameer Jape, Ken Armijo, Joe Coventry, John Pye, Charles-Alexis Asselineau, Felix Venn, William Logie, Armando Fontalvo, Shuang Wang, Robbie McNaughton, Daniel Potter, Theodore Steinberg, Geoffrey Will

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) established the Concentrating Solar Power Generation 3 (CSP Gen3) program to promote the development of advanced CSP systems capable of producing electricity at a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) less than $60/MWh, based on criteria published in the CSP Gen3 Roadmap and a subsequent funding opportunity announcement (Gen3 FOA). This report documents the progress and potential of the “Liquid Pathway” to meet these objectives. The Liquid Pathway proposes the use of low-cost molten chloride salts for energy storage, mated with an operationally flexible solar receiver that employs liquid-metal sodium for heat capture and transfer to the storage salt. This approach leverages molten-salt technology from the current state-of-the-art CSP power towers embodied by plants such as Gemasolar, Crescent Dunes, Noor III, and the DEWA 700 CSP project. Furthermore, the design builds on the knowledge gained over decades of use of liquid-metal sodium as a high-temperature heat transfer fluid (HTF) in solar tests and nuclear-power applications. The commercial representation of the proposed Gen3 design incorporates a high-efficiency sodium receiver operating at ~740°C, with a liquid-liquid heat exchanger feeding a two-tank, molten-chloride salt storage system. Chloride salt is dispatched to a supercritical CO2 (sCO2) power cycle to provide electric power to the grid. The design integration is a conceptual match for the current sodium receiver to solar salt storage to steam-Rankine power cycle promoted by developer Vast Solar, which may facilitate commercial acceptance and development.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages163
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5700-79323


  • concentrating solar power
  • CSP
  • liquid sodium
  • molten salt
  • power tower
  • supercritical carbon dioxide


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