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Concentrated Solar Heat

Solar heat can generate heated fluid or steam for commercial and industrial use. NREL research advances collector, receiver, and storage technologies to capture and store heat more efficiently for heat dispatch and steam generation.

A man in a hardhat and reflective vest works on one of two reflective parabolic troughs amidst a desert landscape.
Photo courtesy of Heat2Hydro, Inc.

Heat derived from solar energy can be put to many beneficial uses, including building and water heating, desalination, district heating, pool heating, industrial process heat, and chemical heating. Current challenges include making solar heat cost-competitive with natural gas or fuel, providing support to bring technologies to market, and solving practical challenges of delivering renewable heat to industries and large buildings. NREL research includes market analysis and technology development.

Market Analysis

NREL performs cost and market analysis research to support the expanded use of solar heat within specific industries and geographic markets. Researchers leverage validated software tools such as System Advisor Model to perform work including:

  • Potential studies, mapping and analysis of local fuel costs and solar radiation to identify the greatest opportunities for market entry
  • Modeling, independent analysis, and case studies to evaluate costs, risks, and payback periods for the use of solar heat in specific business cases.

Technology Development

Researchers conceive and design solar heating system elements to improve performance, lower costs, and extend the technology's applicability. Areas of current study include improved collector design to lower system costs and the use of thermal energy storage and phase change materials to extend energy production beyond daylight hours. 

For further information on NREL solar heat research, contact Parthiv Kurup.