Utility-Scale Solar Power: Deployment Success and Integration Issues
Speaker: Dr. Craig Turchi, Sr. Engineer in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Program
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The solar power sector has undergone enormous changes in the past few years, leading to unprecedented deployment of solar power systems. The cost for photovoltaic (PV) modules has dropped by about 80% due in large part to greater efficiency in manufacturing. Consequently, deployment of residential and commercial systems has grown, and for the first time utility-scale PV systems have entered the marketplace. Utility-scale plants remain the least expensive form of solar power and PV systems have undercut the cost of concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, traditionally the only utility-scale solar technology.
The success of PV in the marketplace challenges the historic concepts of how the power grid is perceived and run. High penetration of solar PV can depress the afternoon demand placed on other generators, suppress afternoon power prices, and cause steep increasing and decreasing power demands on the grid in the evening and morning, respectively. Dr. Turchi’s presentation will review the astounding growth of the solar power sector and discuss the challenges and potential solutions to integrating a high penetration of solar power in the US grid.
Craig earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Ph. D. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University.
Craig began his career with NREL in 1990 working in the Solar Industrial Program. During the 1990s he ran laboratory, pilot, and field tests, and managed cooperative R&D agreements with industry partners. In 1996, he left NREL for the private sector, working first for equipment manufacturer Zentox Corporation and then with ADA Technologies, an R&D company in Littleton, CO.
He returned to NREL in 2008. Craig is a senior engineer and leads NREL’s Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems analysis task and assists with the development and assessment of heat-transfer fluids and thermal-storage concepts. In addition to these roles, he oversees the assessment of advanced power cycle designs and the environmental impacts of utility-scale solar plants. In 2012 he co-authored the chapter on CSP technology in the Department of Energy’s SunShot Vision Study.