In discussions on the merits of distributed solar power too little focus has been given to the many important benefits that result from increasing the use of distributed solar power. These benefits accrue to both the utilities and presumably their rate payers as well and to society (and the tax payers) at large. This post summarizes a recent paper “Solar Power Generation in the US: Too expensive, or a bargain?” that attempts to give these benefits a tangible quantified value in order that the debate on the merits of solar power also begin to include this side of the cost / benefit analysis. A side that is all too often glossed over and largely overlooked.
This post reports on the newly announced loan guarantees for the concentrated solar power (CSP) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project that is to be built in Nevada. This kind of solar power, because it is paired with a molten salt thermal energy storage capacity has the ability to be a load following generation source that is somewhat insulated from intermittency issues as well. For large concentrated solar thermal energy this decoupling of the energy collection from electricity generation makes a lot of sense, because the molten salt is already being used as the working fluid that captures the sun’s heat.