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Title: Parabolic Trough Collector Cost Update for the System Advisor Model (SAM)

This report updates the baseline cost for parabolic trough solar fields in the United States within NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM). SAM, available at no cost at, is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry. SAM is the primary tool used by NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for estimating the performance and cost of concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies and projects. The study performed a bottom-up build and cost estimate for two state-of-the-art parabolic trough designs -- the SkyTrough and the Ultimate Trough. The SkyTrough analysis estimated the potential installed cost for a solar field of 1500 SCAs as $170/m2 +/- $6/m2. The investigation found that SkyTrough installed costs were sensitive to factors such as raw aluminum alloy cost and production volume. For example, in the case of the SkyTrough, the installed cost would rise to nearly $210/m2 if the aluminum alloy cost was $1.70/lb instead of $1.03/lb. Accordingly, one must be aware of fluctuations in the relevant commodities markets to track system cost over time. The estimated installed cost for the Ultimate Trough was only slightly higher at $178/m2, which includes an assembly facilitymore » of $11.6 million amortized over the required production volume. Considering the size and overall cost of a 700 SCA Ultimate Trough solar field, two parallel production lines in a fully covered assembly facility, each with the specific torque box, module and mirror jigs, would be justified for a full CSP plant.« less
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  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
Country of Publication:
United States
47 OTHER INSTRUMENTATION System Advisor Model; SAM; parabolic trough; concentrating solar power; CSP; solar fields; Sky Trough; Ultimate Trough