Coupling PV and CAES power plants to transform intermittent PV electricity into a dispatchable electricity source

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Abstract

This study investigates the transformation of photovoltaic (PV) electricity production from an intermittent into a dispatchable source of electricity by coupling PV plants to compressed air energy storage (CAES) gas turbine power plants. Based on historical solar irradiation data for the United States' south western states and actual PV and CAES performance data, we show that the large-scale adoption of coupled PV–CAES power plants will likely enable peak electricity generation in 2020 at costs equal to or lower than those from natural gas power plants with or without carbon capture and storage systems. Our findings also suggest that given the societal value of reducing carbon dioxide and the sensitivity of conventional generation to rising fossil fuel prices, this competitive crossover point may occur much sooner. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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