The present work introduces an indirect supercritical CO2–air driven concentrated solar plant with a packed bed thermal energy storage. The proposed plant design enables a supercritical CO2 turbine inlet temperature of 800°C, overcoming the temperature limits imposed by the use of solar molten salts as primary heat transfer fluid. Furthermore, the packed bed thermal energy storage permits the decoupling between thermal power collection from the sun and electricity generation. Besides, the thermal energy storage unit grants operational flexibility and enlarges the plant capacity factor, making it as available as a conventional coal facility. A transient thermodynamic model of the integrated concentrating solar plant, including receiver, thermal energy storage, intermediate heat exchangers and supercritical CO2 power cycle has been developed. This same model has been used to evaluate the thermodynamic performance of the proposed plant design over a complete year. A similar model has been implemented to simulate a supercritical CO2 plant driven by a more traditional solar molten salt loop. A comparison of the thermodynamic performance of the two plant designs has been performed. A complete economic model has been developed in order to evaluate the economic viability of the proposed plant. Furthermore, a multi-objective optimization have been executed in order to assess the influence of the thermal energy storage size, supercritical CO2 turbine inlet temperature and plant solar multiple on the key performance indicators. Results show that the proposed indirect supercritical CO2–air driven with a packed bed thermal energy storage concentrated solar plant leads to improved thermo-economic performance with respect to the molten salts driven design. Enhancements in the power cycle efficiency and in the overall electricity production can be achieved, with a consequent reduction in the levelized cost of electricity. Particularly, for a design net electrical power production of 10MWe a minimum levelized cost of electricity has been calculated at 89.4 $/MWh for a thermal energy storage capacity of 13.9 hours at full load and a plant solar multiple of 2.47 corresponding to a capital investment of about 73.4 M$.

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