needed, on the assumptions, quality, strengths, weaknesses, objectivity, and credibility of the analysis. The committee’s analysis will include consideration of multiple technology pathways, potential technology advances to 2020, and the possible benefits accruing from economies of scale and learning under various scenarios of manufacturing scale up and large-scale deployment.

Because its task was narrowly focused, the committee emphasizes that numerous factors significantly influencing the future of CSP were outside the scope of review. Accordingly, the committee’s report:

  • Does not take a position on the desirability of DOE support of CSP;

  • Does not consider the economic competitiveness of CSP alone or within a portfolio of renewable energy options;

  • Does not consider economic competitiveness against fossil or nuclear energy;

  • Does not develop independent estimates of cost projections;

  • Does not incorporate environmental externalities (e.g., carbon credits);

  • Does not discuss policy-based incentives such as energy taxes or credits (other than investment tax credit (ITC) and accelerated depreciation as assumed by S&L), renewable portfolio standards,3 or other fiscal and energy policy at the federal and state level;

  • Does not express an independent judgment of previous NRC or other studies and reviews of the economics, technology, and programmatic status of CSP;

  • Does not comment on the DOE’s future programmatic strategy for the development of CSP.

To conduct its review, the NRC appointed a 10-member committee (see Appendix B) that first met on August 12 through 14, 2002, to review the S&L work with the aim of having a “fast track” report completed by mid-November 2002. The NRC committee met twice (see Appendix C) and several members of the committee also conducted a site visit to the Kramer Junction facility on August 29, 2002. The remainder of this report comprises six sections. The first describes the context for the committee’s efforts. The next two evaluate S&L’s assessment of the potential to lower the costs of CSP troughs and towers in the United States. The fourth section then focuses on S&L’s deployment forecast, a topic that the committee addressed early in its study and revisited frequently during its reading of several S&L draft reports. The committee regards these forecasts as a dominant issue in any assessment of the potential for realizing projected cost reductions.


A renewable portfolio standard is a requirement that a certain percentage of an electric utility’s energy be generated by using renewable resources—energy from the sun (solar), wind, flowing water (hydropower), earth heat (geothermal), or organic materials (biomass, including agricultural and municipal waste materials).

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