Domestic Material Content in Molten-Salt Concentrating Solar Power Plants

Craig Turchi, Parthiv Kurup, Sertac Akar, Francisco Flores-Espino

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This study lists material composition data for a two concentrating solar power (CSP) plant designs: a molten-salt power tower and hypothetical parabolic trough plant that uses a molten salt for the heat transfer fluid (HTF) and thermal storage media. The two designs have equivalent generating and thermal energy storage capacities. The material content of the salt-HTF trough plant was two designs suggests that salt-HTF trough plants could be competitive with molten-salt power towers if the technical hurdles of deploying salt in the solar field can be overcome. The potential cost and complexity of freeze protection and freeze recovery technology is viewed as having the greatest impact on the viability of salt-HTF troughs. CSP plants are composed mainly of steel, glass, concrete and aggregate materials, which are abundantly available from domestic sources. This is true for most locations in the world where CSP plants might be deployed and is an attractive attribute of the technology with regards to its impact on the local economy. In the U.S., we estimate that 90% by mass and 79% by value of the commodity materials utilized in a CSP plant can be supplied by domestic sources. approximately 25% lower than a comparably sized conventional oil-HTF parabolic trough plant. The significant reduction in oil, salt, metal, and insulation mass by switching to a salt-HTF design is expected to reduce the capital cost and LCOE for the parabolic trough system. The report relies primarily on data generated through two prior studies undertaken with WorleyParsons Group that estimated the material content of a molten-salt power tower [1] and oil-HTF parabolic trough plants [2]. New analysis is provided with regard to the material composition of the power tower solar field and the sizing of a salt-HTF trough solar field and HTF system.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-64429


  • concentrating solar power plants
  • CSP
  • material content
  • molten salt


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