Why is it a priority to fund research in CSP and Power Electronics?

Video Recorded By: Stratton Report
September 21, 2017

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Stratton Report One Minute Video Interviews at SPI2017

Becca Jones-Albertus, PH.D
Deputy Director, Solar Energy Technology Office
Dept. of Energy

Why is it a priority to fund research in CSP and Power Electronics?

Yes, so today, we announced up to $62 million of funding to advance concentrating solar power technologies and we’re working on what we call the generation three systems, and so these are CSP systems that’ll be even more efficient by going to higher temperatures and as well as focusing on systems that could integrate with Supercritical CO2 technology to enable even smaller systems. Why CSP is important is because CSP can be integrated with thermal energy storage to provide solar energy whenever it’s needed. So, you can have basically on-demand solar power which solves the challenges with the variability of the solar resource. So, CSP is a really important technology option to have for integrating Solar into the grid.

Right now, CSP is really not cost competitive, it’s too expensive and so we’re looking at this longer term early stage research to the next generation of CSP systems that can be cost competitive. Today, we announced up to $20 million in funding also for power electronics. Power electronics being the interface between affordable tech systems and the grid are a really critical piece for grid integration and addressing the administration’s priorities of grid reliability, resilience and security. So, through this funding opportunity, we will be looking at how to make the power electronics more reliable, focus on overall light-time cost reduction and in addition, how to incorporate advanced functionality into power electronics that can allow solar systems to provide essential grid services, voltage & frequency control to make—you know, to contribute to increased reliability of the grid, as well as advanced functionality for integrating with storage or grid forming capabilities that can really support not only reliability but resilience and security.