This paper summarizes the findings of a study undertaken by the European Academies Science Advisory Council to evaluate the development challenges of concentrating solar power (CSP) and its consequent potential to contribute to low carbon electricity systems in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (the MENA region) to 2050. The study reviewed the current status and prospective developments of the four main CSP technology families, and identified prospective technical developments, quantifying anticipated efficiency improvements and cost reductions. Similarly, developments in thermal energy storage were evaluated, and the role and value of CSP storage in electricity systems were examined. A key conclusion was that as the share of intermittent renewables in an electricity system increases, so does the value of thermal energy storage in CSP plants. Looking ahead, the study concludes that CSP should be cost competitive with fossil-fired power generation at some point in the 2020’s provided that commercial deployment continues at an increasing rate, and through support mechanisms that incentivise technology development. Incentive schemes should reflect the real value of electricity to the system, and should ensure sufficient transparency of cost data that learning rates can be monitored. Key factors which will determine CSP’s contribution in Europe and the MENA region over the period to 2050 are generating costs, physical constraints on construction of new plants and transmission, and considerations of security of supply. The study makes recommendations to European and MENA region policy makers on how the associated issues should be addressed.

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