Why is powering thermal desalination with concentrated solar power expensive? assessing economic feasibility and market commercialization barriers

Mohamed Alhaj, Sami G. Al-Ghamdi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Concentrated solar power (CSP) technology has the potential to reduce the environmental impacts of thermal desalination processes and supply freshwater in remote areas, but it still has not been demonstrated in a commercial project. This problem raises concerns about the long-term reliability and economic feasibility of this technology, particularly when implemented at a large scale, which is the niche market for desalination. In this study, we obtained further insights into the economics of concentrated solar thermal desalination based on a representative calculation of the levelized cost of water (LCOW) and a cost sensitivity analysis. In addition, we compared our cost estimations with those of previous studies and evaluated the reasons for their significant variation. Moreover, we discuss market commercialization barriers from a policy perspective. We found that the LCOW for solar-driven thermal desalination ranges from $0.94–4.31 per m3 of freshwater, where the cost is affected mainly by the capital expenditure on the solar field and the operating expenditure of the desalination plant. Little empirical evidence from previous studies supports the economies of scale argument for concentrated solar thermal desalination. Several policies are suggested to improve the competitiveness of large-scale concentrated solar thermal desalination.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalSolar Energy
Volume189
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-02-14

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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