Optimizing the cost and performance of parabolic trough solar plants with thermal energy storage in India


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Solar energy is considered a potential source of renewable energy in India, a country blessed with abundant solar energy resources. Using system advisor model, weather data, cost estimates, and local specific assumptions, this work looks at economic and financial feasibility of a 100 MW parabolic trough concentrating solar power plant with energy storage at Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Base case scenario is defined as a 100 MW plant without thermal energy storage. The resulting power purchase agreement (PPA) price comes out to be 34.17 US cents/kWh, barely within acceptable range of specified feed-in tariff indicated by the Indian Government in Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. This implies that although the system configuration in the base case may be financially feasible, it yields lower returns. Scenario analysis with varying solar multiples and thermal energy storage has been done in this study. It is concluded that the lowest PPA price of about 31.4 US cents/kWh can be achieved in a system configuration having a solar multiple of two and equipped with 3 hours of thermal energy storage. Sensitivity analysis is done to measure the impact of uncertainty of solar radiation on project economics and performance. Theuncertainty in measurement and prediction of solar radiation has a direct impact on the levelized cost of electricity and capacity factor of the 100 MW parabolic trough plant. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 32: 824–829, 2013