Techno-Economic Analysis of a Concentrating Solar Power Plant Using Redox-Active Metal Oxides as Heat Transfer Fluid and Storage Media

Brandon T. Gorman, Mariana Lanzarini-Lopes, Nathan G. Johnson, James E. Miller, Ellen B. Stechel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We present results for a one-dimensional quasi-steady-state thermodynamic model developed for a 111.7 MWe concentrating solar power (CSP) system using a redox-active metal oxide as the heat storage media and heat transfer agent integrated with a combined cycle air Brayton power block. In the energy charging and discharging processes, the metal oxide CaAl0.2Mn0.8O2.9-δ (CAM28) undergoes a reversible, high temperature redox cycle including an endothermic oxygen-releasing reaction and exothermic oxygen-incorporation reaction. Concentrated solar radiation heats the redox-active oxide particles under partial vacuum to drive the reduction extent deeper for increased energy density at a fixed temperature, thereby increasing storage capacity while limiting the required on sun temperature. Direct counter-current contact of the reduced particles with compressed air from the Brayton compressor releases stored chemical and sensible energy, heating the air to 1,200°C at the turbine inlet while cooling and reoxidizing the particles. The cool oxidized particles recirculate through the solar receiver subsystem for another cycle of heating and reduction (oxygen release). We applied the techno-economic model to 1) size components, 2) examine intraday operation with varying solar insolation, 3) estimate annual performance characteristics over a simulated year, 4) estimate the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), and 5) perform sensitivity analyses to evaluate factors that affect performance and cost. Simulations use hourly solar radiation data from Barstow, California to assess the performance of a 111.7 MWe system with solar multiples (SMs) varying from 1.2 to 2.4 and storage capacities of 6–14 h. The baseline system with 6 h storage and SM of 1.8 has a capacity factor of 54.2%, an increase from 32.3% capacity factor with no storage, and an average annual energy efficiency of 20.6%. Calculations show a system with an output of 710 GWhe net electricity per year, 12 h storage, and SM of 2.4 to have an installed cost of $329 million, and an LCOE of 5.98 ¢/kWhe. This value meets the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot 2020 target of 6.0 ¢/kWhe (U. S Department of Energy, 2012), but falls just shy of the 5.0 ¢/kWhe 2030 CSP target for dispatchable electricity (U. S Department of Energy, 2017). The cost and performance results are minimally sensitive to most design parameters. However, a one-point change in the weighted annual cost of capital from 8 to 7% (better understood as a 12.5% change) translates directly to an 11% decrease (0.66 ¢/kWhe) in the LCOE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number734288
JournalFrontiers in Energy Research
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • concentrating solar power
  • redox active metal oxide materials
  • renewable energy
  • techno-economic analysis
  • thermochemical cycles
  • thermochemical energy storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Economics and Econometrics


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