Solarthermal and photovoltaic power plants: a comparison

How will the market for photovoltaic and solar thermal power plants develop in coming decades? A study under the leadership of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has analysed the development of these power plants up until 2030.

In effect, it would appear that based on present-day conditions especially the combination of CSP and PV costs less in most scenarios than using only one of the two technologies. In doing so, the photovoltaic part of the power plant preferably feeds electricity directly into the grid during the day, while the solar thermal part stores solar energy in thermal storage units in order to convert it when needed, i.e. usually at night.

When there is a great need for electricity during night-time hours, CSP-based power plants offer an advantage thanks to their thermal storage units. At the same time, hybrid operations can be integrated with fossil or alternate energy carriers relatively easily at only marginal additional costs.

The complete study is to be published before the end of 2016.

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Profile: project engineer, project developer, investor

Technology: wind energy

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Opinion panel

“The economic efficiency of a solar thermal collector is found mainly in its high yield, long service life and especially its performance reliability – lasting even for decades. Our technology, based on high-vacuum tubes, meets all requirements and always performs at the same high level. All essential solar thermal components are located inside the high vacuum and are thus protected from deterioration for their entire lifetime. Thanks to this and individual customer solutions, many years of practical experience and knowledge gained in a large number of large-scale solar thermal projects, we achieve the best possible economic efficiency and customer satisfaction in every solar thermal project. One hundred per cent ‘Made in Germany’.”

Günter Schaffron, Managing Director, s-power Entwicklungs- & Vertriebs GmbH

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