Strategic Energy Technologies Information System

European Industrial Initiative on solar energy - Concentrating solar power

Indicative Roadmap (click on Figure to enlarge)

Strategic objective

To demonstrate the competitiveness and readiness for mass deployment of advanced concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, through scaling-up of the most promising technologies to pre-commercial or commercial level.

Industrial sector objective
To contribute around 3% of European electricity supply by 2020 with a potential of at least 10% by 2030 if the DESERTECThe concept of DESERTEC is a massive deployment of solar technology, mainly CSP, in MENA countries and the export of electricity to Europe. (MENA = Middle East, and North Africa)  vision is achieved.

Technology objectives

Achieving large-scale, sustainable deployment of advanced CSP plants with better performance and lower costs requires addressing a series of technical Issues, as well as carrying out a parallel series R&D and demonstration activities designed to better exploit the inherent strengths of CSP technology.

1.    Reduction of generation, operation and maintenance costs

  • To improve the conversion efficiency at system level as well as the reliability and efficiency of individual components.
  • To develop advanced plant monitoring and control technologies.

2.    Improvement of operational flexibility and energy dispatchability

  • To develop and improve thermal energy storage, as well as hybridisation of the power plant with natural gas and potentially with bio-mass renewable energy.

3.    Improvement in the environmental and water-use footprint

  • To reduce the cooling water consumption through innovative cycles, by developing dry cooling systems and optimising land use through new and innovative designs.
  • To demonstrate CSP-specific sustainable water desalination processes.

4.    Advanced concepts & designs

  • To address advanced components, concepts and systems.


1.    Reduction of generation, operation and maintenance costs
A R&D & demonstration programme to address individual components as well as the overall conversion efficiency and to reduce the investment cost of the installations, as well as the operation and maintenance costs. Some of the specific aspects may need to be addressed on a small-to-medium scale before moving to demonstration in full-scale power plants.

  1. Development and test of new components with increased efficiency and reliability (high temperature joints, new collector designs, improved absorber tubes, new reflector solutions, improve pumps and valves, improved the power block and instrumentation);
  2. Decrease the heat losses in the receiver;
  3. Reduction of optical losses by increased mirror reflectivity and receiver absorption;
  4. More efficient cycles and receivers:
  • high efficiency air receivers
  • high pressure, high efficiency steam receivers
  • Operation with heat transfer fluids at higher temperatures.
  • Development and testing of new, more economic components i.e. high temperature joints, absorber tubes, new reflector solutions and collector design, pumps and power blocks, as well as heat transfer fluids;
  • Identification, development and assessment of alternative heat transfer fluids with lower costs, low environmental impact and a wide operation range;
  • Optimise and improve the monitoring and communication technologies for the control, operation and maintenance of CSP power plants, as well as developing operation strategies and prediction tools to better facilitate grid integration.

2.    Improvement of operational flexibility and energy dispatchability
A R&D and demonstration programme addressing thermal energy storage and CSP plant hybridization with other energy sources in order to increase the ability to deliver electricity at any given time. Some of the aspects may need to be addressed on a small-to-medium scale before moving to full-scale demonstration on plants.

  1. New and improved concepts and materials for heat energy storage and heat transfer systems will be developed and tested (transfer fluids, filler materials, change of phase systems, molten salts, ultra capacitors etc.) and implemented in large-scale demonstration plants;
  2. New process design and operating modes;
  3. Hybridisation of solar energy with other renewable energy sources (mostly biomass);
  4. Development of control systems for monitoring the consumption curves.

3.    Improve the environmental footprint
A R&D and demonstration programme addressing water cooling needs, dry cooling, water desalination and purification as well as the efficient and innovative use of land.

  1. New approaches to reduce water consumption, e.g. through innovative use of an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) coupled with conventional steam cycle;
  2. Develop and demonstrate dry cooling systems;
  3. Develop and demonstrate CSP-specific sustainable water desalination and purification processes;
  4. Integration of low-polluting materials;
  5. Better utilisation of available land through new design strategies.

4.    Advanced concepts & designs

  • A longer-term R&D programme aimed at supporting the longer-term CSP industry development (beyond 2020) will focus on advanced concepts and systems, as well as innovative approaches to the critical major components.

Indicative costs (2010-2020)

Technology Objectives

Costs (M€)

1. Increase efficiency & Reduce generation costs

4 400

2. Increase dispatchability

1 700

3. Improve the environmental footprint


4. Longer term R&D



7 000

This reflects the total sum of the required public and private investments.

Indicative Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)


Key Performance Indicators

1. Increase efficiency & Reduce cost

·      Increased solar to electricity conversion efficiency by at least 20% (relative)

·      Reduce cost of installed products and O&M by at least 20% compared with state of the art in commercial plants in 2009

2. Increase dispatchability

·      Increased performance of storage and hybridisation by at least 20%

3. Improve the environmental profile

·      Substantial reduction of water consumption with only minor loss of performance

·      Substantial reduction in land use per MW installed