The Role of Concentrating Solar-Thermal Technologies in a Decarbonized U.S. Grid

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Solar Futures Study explores the roles solar energy technologies could play in the future U.S. energy markets under different scenarios. This report discusses the role of concentrating solar-thermal (CST) technologies in those future scenarios with an emphasis on concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), which refers to converting thermal energy to electricity. The report begins with an overview of the CSP resource and market status. Next we discuss the results from the grid-scale capacity planning modeling under future scenarios considered in the Solar Futures Study, focusing on the results for CSP and presenting several sensitivity model results not discussed in the main report. We then discuss likely CST research and industry directions over the next decade. Finally we discuss three potential future markets for CST beyond electricity generation -- industrial process heat, solar fuels production, and electric thermal energy storage.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages70
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5700-80574


  • concentrating solar
  • concentrating solar-thermal
  • CSP
  • CST
  • Solar Futures


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