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Concentrating Solar Power

ATB data for concentrating solar power (CSP) are shown above. CSP costs in the 2020 ATB originated from (1) an NREL survey leading to updated cost estimates in the System Advisor Model (SAM Version 2017.09.05) and (2) further cost estimates for CSP components that have been in SAM from Version 2018.11.11 (Craig Turchi et al. 2019). The SAM 2018 costs translate to ATB costs in 2021 that are due to the three-year construction period. (SAM costs are based on the project announcement year, while the 2020 ATB is based on the plant commissioning year). Future year projections are informed by the published literature, NREL expertise, and technology pathway assessments for CAPEX and O&M cost reductions.

The three scenarios for technology innovation are:

  • Conservative Technology Innovation Scenario (Conservative Scenario): no change in CAPEX, O&M, or capacity factor from current estimates (2021 for CSP) to 2050
  • Moderate Technology Innovation Scenario (Moderate Scenario): projection based on recently published literature projections and NREL judgment of potential innovations in the powerblock, receiver, thermal storage, and solar field; it is anticipated that CSP costs could fall by approximately 25% from the ATB CSP 2021 costs of $6,570/kWe to approximately $4,880/kWe by 2030. From 2030 to 2050, CSP CAPEX is projected to fall to approximately $3,950/kWe.
  • Advanced Technology Innovation Scenario (Advanced Scenario): projection based on the lower bound of the literature sample, and on the Power to Change report (IRENA 2016), consistent with innovations in powerblock, receiver, and thermal storage to accommodate higher temperature systems, and modularity in the solar field.


The following references are specific to this page; for all references in this ATB, see References.

Turchi, Craig, Boyd, Matthew, Kesseli, Devon, Kurup, Parthiv, Mehos, Mark, Neises, Ty, Sharan, Prashant, Wagner, Michael, & Wendelin, Timothy. (2019). CSP Systems Analysis: Final Project Report. (No. NREL/TP-5500-72856). National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.