Why Concentrated Solar Can't Compete with Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Now

Solar energy has witnessed remarkable growth over the years, with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels dominating the market. While concentrated solar power (CSP) once held promise, it currently struggles to compete with PV solar due to cost considerations. In this article, we delve into the reasons why CSP faces challenges in the current solar energy landscape.

The Rise of PV Solar 

PV solar technology has experienced significant advancements and cost reductions, making it the preferred choice for solar energy deployment. Key factors contributing to PV's dominance include:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: The cost of PV panels and associated components, such as inverters and mounting systems, has plummeted over the years due to economies of scale, technological innovations, and manufacturing efficiencies.

  2. Scalability and Versatility: PV systems are highly scalable and adaptable, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, from residential rooftop installations to utility-scale solar farms.

  3. Efficiency Improvements: PV solar panels have become more efficient in converting sunlight into electricity, maximizing energy output per unit area.

Challenges Faced by Concentrated Solar (CSP)

Concentrated solar power (CSP) relies on mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver, generating heat to produce electricity. Despite its potential, CSP encounters several hurdles that impede its competitiveness:

  1. High Capital Costs: CSP plants require substantial upfront investment in complex mirror arrays, heat transfer systems, and storage infrastructure. The initial capital costs for CSP projects are higher compared to PV solar installations.

  2. Site-Specific Requirements: CSP plants are location-dependent and perform optimally in regions with abundant direct sunlight and clear skies. This limits their applicability and scalability compared to PV solar, which can be deployed in diverse geographic settings.

  3. Technological Complexity: The intricate nature of CSP systems, involving moving parts, thermal energy storage, and specialized components, adds to operational complexity and maintenance requirements.

  4. Market Trends: The rapid decline in PV solar costs has shifted market dynamics towards PV as the preferred solar technology for large-scale deployment, resulting in reduced investment and research focus on CSP.

Future Prospects for CSP

Despite the current challenges, concentrated solar power (CSP) continues to hold promise for specific applications and regions:

  • Hybrid Systems: Integrating CSP with thermal energy storage can enhance grid stability and reliability, making CSP suitable for dispatchable power generation.

  • Specialized Applications: CSP technologies, such as solar desalination and industrial process heat, offer unique advantages in niche markets requiring high-temperature heat.

  • Innovation and Research: Ongoing research and development efforts aim to improve CSP efficiency, reduce costs, and explore novel applications, revitalizing interest in CSP as a complementary solar technology.


While concentrated solar power (CSP) faces challenges in competing with PV solar due to cost considerations, ongoing innovations and targeted applications may reshape its role in the evolving solar energy landscape. As the renewable energy sector continues to evolve, diverse technologies like CSP and PV will play complementary roles in advancing sustainability and energy transition on a global scale.