This study focuses on the techno-economic optimization of direct molten salt parabolic trough solar thermal power plants (STPPs) equipped with thermocline filler (TCF) thermal energy storage (TES). On one hand, this technology allows for cost reductions compared with state of the art two-tank (2T) TES. On the other hand, however, it leads to a performance decrease of the power block (PB) due to partial part load operation. To evaluate the dominating effect, annual simulations on a system level are performed for the TCF direct molten salt storage concept and, as a reference, for the two-tank direct molten salt storage concept. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) serves as a global measure to compare the two systems and to optimally size the TCF storage and the solar field (SF). The result of this study is that LCOE can theoretically be reduced by up to 8% by using a TCF instead of 2T storage system. The influence of temperature deviations from the nominal value at the end of charge or discharge, porosity and particle diameter of the TCF on LCOE, and system behavior is investigated in detail. This study further presents alternative operation strategies with improved system behavior and reveals determining factors for the integration of TCF storage into a system.