Operation of Concentrating Solar Power Plants in the Western Wind and Solar Integration Phase 2 Study

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS) explores various aspects of the challenges and impacts of integrating large amounts of wind and solar energy into the electric power system of the West. The phase 2 study (WWSIS-2) is one of the first to include dispatchable concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage (TES) in multiple scenarios of renewable penetration and mix.As a result, it provides unique insights into CSP plant operation, grid benefits, and how CSP operation and configuration may need to change under scenarios of increased renewable penetration. Examination of the WWSIS-2 results indicates that in all scenarios, CSP plants with TES provides firm system capacity, reducing the net demand and the need for conventional thermal capacity. The plantsalso reduced demand during periods of short-duration, high ramping requirements that often require use of lower efficiency peaking units. Changes in CSP operation are driven largely by the presence of other solar generation, particularly PV. Use of storage by the CSP plants increases in the higher solar scenarios, with operation of the plant often shifted to later in the day. CSP operation alsobecomes more variable, including more frequent starts. Finally, CSP output is often very low during the day in scenarios with significant PV, which helps decrease overall renewable curtailment (over-generation). However, the configuration studied is likely not optimal for High Solar Scenario implying further analysis of CSP plant configuration is needed to understand its role in enabling highrenewable scenarios in the Western United States.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages33
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-61782


  • costs
  • cycling
  • emissions
  • grid operations
  • integration
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • NREL
  • operational impacts
  • renewables
  • solar
  • variable generation
  • wear and tear
  • wind


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