Prospects and problems of concentrating solar power technologies for power generation in the desert regions

Xinhai Xu, K. Vignarooban, Ben Xu, K. Hsu, Arunachala Mada Kannan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Concentrated solar power plants (CSPs) are gaining momentum due to their potential of power generation throughout the day for base load applications in the desert regions with extremely high direct normal irradiance (DNI). Among various types of the CSPs, solar tower power technologies are becoming the front runners especially in the United States and around the world with the possibility to compete with traditional power generation technologies in terms of efficiency and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). A bibliometric analysis of the publications on the CSP systems and components since 1990 shows a total of 6400+ publications and reveals an exponential growth due to reasons that CSP systems promises a lot of potential as the future large scale power source for varied applications. This review consolidates the benefits and challenges of the CSP technologies particularly in the desert regions. Thorough literature analysis as well as the meteorological data projects the trend that the CSP systems would become a reality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Australia, Southwestern region of the United States, Southwestern part of China and China/Mongolia border with high direct normal irradiance. However, enormous amount of support and capital investments are needed for making these CSP systems realistic as there is not much power grid network in existence. It is evident that there are multiple challenges specifically in water consumption, materials design and development for the optimum heat transfer fluid, thermal energy storage and receiver subsystems in addition to commercial viability and environmental impacts. Each of the challenges is discussed in detail and suggestions are made to address the challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1131
Number of pages26
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Concentrating solar power
  • Direct normal irradiance
  • Heat transfer fluids
  • Levelized cost of electricity
  • Operational maintenance
  • Thermal energy storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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