Franziska Schöniger, Richard Thonig, Gustav Resch and Johan Lilliestam: Making the sun shine at night: comparing the cost of dispatchable concentrating solar power and photovoltaics with storage, ENERGY SOURCES, PART B: ECONOMICS, PLANNING, AND POLICY,


Sustainable electricity systems need renewable and dispatchable energy sources. Solar energy is an abundant source of renewable energy globally which is, though, by nature only available during the day, and especially in clear weather conditions. We compare three technology configurations able to provide dispatchable solar power at times without sunshine: Photovoltaics (PV) combined with battery (BESS) or thermal energy storage (TES) and concentrating solar power (CSP) with TES. Modeling different periods without sunshine, we find that PV+BESS is competitive for shorter storage durations while CSP+TES gains economic advantages for longer storage periods (also over PV+TES). The corresponding tipping points lie at 2–3 hours (current cost), and 4–10 hours if expectations on future cost developments are taken into consideration. PV+TES becomes only more competitive than CSP+TES with immense additional cost reductions of PV. Hence, there remain distinct niches for two technologies: PV+BESS for short storage durations and CSP+TES for longer ones.