Studies completed at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory have allowed an in-depth examination of costs for solar thermal central receiver power plants. Central receiver concepts were evaluated for plant power ratings ranging from 0.5 to 100 MWe, and plant capacity factors ranging from 0.25 to 0.60. The large number of plant configurations considered necessitated the development of cost estimating models. Cost models were developed for concentrator, receiver, transport, storage, energy conversion, balance of plant, and O&M components. This paper presents a detailed discussion of costs for solar thermal central receiver power plants. Principal subcomponents and cost drivers are identified for each component. The impact of alternative design choices on cost and the tradeoffs involved between different working fluids are addressed. Cost uncertainties are examined qualitatively for each component. Finally, equations are presented for making preliminary estimates of direct capital and annual O&M costs for solar thermal central receiver systems.

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