Parabolic trough power plants are currently the most commercially applied systems for CSP power generation. To improve their cost-effectiveness, one focus of industry and research is the development of processes with other heat transfer fluids than the currently used synthetic oil. One option is the utilization of water/steam in the solar field, the so-called direct steam generation (DSG). Several previous studies promoted the economic potential of DSG technology [1–3]. Analyses’ results showed that live steam parameters of up to 500°C and 120 bars are most promising and could lead to a reduction of the levelized electricity cost (LEC) of about 11% [4]. However, all of these studies only considered plants without thermal energy storage (TES). Therefore, a system analysis including integrated TES was performed by Flagsol GmbH and DLR together with Solar Millennium AG, Schott CSP GmbH and Senior Bergho¨fer GmbH, all Germany. Two types of plants are analyzed and compared in detail: a power plant with synthetic oil and a DSG power plant. The design of the synthetic oil plant is very similar to the Spanish Andasol plants [5] and includes a molten salt two-tank storage system. The DSG plant has main steam parameters of 500 °C and 112 bars and uses phase change material (PCM) for the latent and molten salt for the sensible part of the TES system. To enable comparability, both plants share the same gross electric turbine capacity of 100 MWel, the same TES capacity of nine hours of full load equivalent and the same solar multiple of the collector field of about two. This paper describes and compares both plants’ design, performance and investment. Based on these results, the LEC are calculated and the DSG plant’s potential is evaluated. One key finding is that with currently proposed DSG storage costs, the LEC of a DSG plant could be higher than those of a synthetic oil plant. When considering a plant without TES on the other hand, the DSG system could reduce the LEC. This underlines the large influence of TES and the still needed effort in the development of a commercial storage system for DSG.

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