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Optimal plant size detailed in report

150 MW is the ideal plant size, according to the new "Concentrated Solar Power Parabolic Trough: Cost & Performance Report". The new report looks at how the development of larger than 50MW CSP plants in the US (from 100 to 280 MW) has revealed cost saving benefits. When increasing plant capacity, the relatively lower cost of components will contribute to a lower levelized energy cost (LCOE).

This is because suppliers will be able to provide better prices for components, due to higher volume purchases. However, while scaling up the plant size will lead to a general decrease in the LCOE mainly due to power block savings ($/MW). "The impact of plant size on other factors such as parasitic losses and operations and maintenance cost may not be well understood" says Carlos Márquez, head of research at CSP Today.

The report found that the optimal plant size of a parabolic trough plant occurs at a juncture between maximum scale up benefits and minimal drawbacks. The report simulated five different plant sizes with 7.5 hours of thermal storage; in comparison to smaller and larger plant sizes, the 150 MW plant size was identified as the optimal plant with a reduction of 12% to 18% in LCOE correlated to the plant scale up.

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