Chairperson's Message

Dear colleagues,

 

It is my honor to invite you (again!) to the SolarPACES 2022 International Conference, September 27 to 30, 2022 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. SolarPACES (Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems) is the premier international conference and network for advancing commercial deployment and research and development of concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) and related technologies. After two years of virtual collaboration, I am excited to see you all in person, as COVID-19-related restrictions allow.

 

CSP continues to see significant global growth, with approximately a gigawatt of capacity currently under construction. Integration with thermal energy storage continues to prove that the technology can provide flexible, dispatchable solar energy any time of day. As global energy markets require renewable electricity coupled with long-duration energy storage that can complement and support increasing amounts of variable wind and solar photovoltaic power, CSP technology is well positioned to continue its growth.

The United States is proud to host the SolarPACES conference and highlight the world-leading solar thermal research, development, and demonstration taking place here. Building a clean and equitable energy economy and addressing the climate crisis is a top priority of the U.S. Government, which has a goal to achieve carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and to put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by not later than 2050. Solar energy technologies are essential to achieving these goals—along with the development of low-cost, long-duration energy storage—for both electricity and industrial applications.

 

As the country that saw the first commercial deployment of CSP technology in the 1980s, the United States aims to remain at the forefront of CSP development. Continuing that tradition of innovation, in 2021 the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the selection and award of $25 million to Sandia National Laboratories for the Generation 3 (Gen3) CSP test facility. This megawatt-scale system will demonstrate a fully integrated thermal transport and storage system that can collect, store, and deliver heat above 700° Celsius, using solid particle heat transfer media. This technology will enable the integration of CSP with high-efficiency, low-cost advances power cycles based on supercritical carbon dioxide, as well as high temperature industrial processes, to enable the decarbonization of the entire energy sector. This work represents a major step toward SETO’s 2030 cost target of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour for plants with 12 or more hours of storage.

 

In addition to the efforts led by SETO, the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the Energy Earthshots Initiatives to accelerate breakthroughs of abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions by the end of this decade. Specifically, the Long Duration Storage Shot established a target to reduce the cost of grid-scale energy storage by 90% for systems that deliver 10 or more hours of duration, to $0.05 per kilowatt-hour of electricity delivered from storage. Hydrogen Shot seeks to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80%, to $1 per 1 kilogram. CSP technologies have promising potential to contribute to both of these important goals.

 

At the SolarPACES 2022 conference in Albuquerque, attendees will have the opportunity to visit a globally renowned CSP research center at Sandia National Laboratories and the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF). The NSTTF opened in 1978 as the world’s first tower research facility for CSP and has been operating for more than 40 years. The site has been a center of excellence in the development of molten salt technologies for CSP and has played a key role in the demonstration of technologies used in some of the largest solar power plants in the world. Researchers at Sandia and the NSTTF are in the vanguard of developing advanced CSP technology, working to demonstrate Gen3 technologies at the megawatt scale to improve efficiency and deliver low-cost solar power with storage.

 

On behalf of the conference organizing committee, I am delighted to welcome you to Albuquerque. We look forward to having you join us.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Avi Shultz

Chair, 2022 SolarPACES International Conference

Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Program Manager

Solar Energy Technologies Office

U.S. Department of Energy