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Concentrating Solar-Thermal Technologies in a Decarbonized U.S. Grid

COURSE NO: R04-011
Concentrating Solar-Thermal Technologies in a Decarbonized U.S. Grid
Course Highlights

This online engineering PDH course establishes the principles of concentrating solar-thermal (CST) technologies and how they apply to future U.S. energy markets.


CST uses reflective surfaces to concentrate the sun’s rays on a small area (the receiver), which heats up to temperatures of 700 to 1000 deg F, depending on the type of receiver used. Concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) refers to a system for converting this heat to electricity, which is the primary end application discussed in the course. Besides generating electricity, CST can be used in any other application that requires thermal energy, such as industrial process-heating, thermal desalination, and fuel production.


Thermal energy can also be stored for later use through thermal energy storage systems, giving CST technologies greater generation flexibility than solar photovoltaic or wind technologies.  This course describes the most widely deployed CSP plant types, such as parabolic trough collectors, power tower systems, linear Fresnel collectors, and parabolic dish collectors.


The 4 PDH online course is intended for all engineers who are interested in learning about the applications of solar energy technologies.
Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Familiarizing with technology trends in the last decade
  • Learning about total installed costs, levelized cost of electricity, and operations and maintenance costs
  • Recognizing the three potential pathways for increasing the operating temperature of the CSP plant: molten salt, particles, and supercritical CO2
  • Knowing the importance of the solar collection field in determining the costs of the total system
  • Recognizing the potentially huge markets in supplying industrial process heat
  • Distinguishing the different challenges represented by low, medium, and high-temperature industrial processes
  • Recognizing the potential market in producing solar fuels
  • Understanding the challenges in applying CST to methane reforming, steam gasification, redox reactions, multistep thermochemical cycles, and high-temperature electrolysis
  • Understanding the potential advantages offered by pumped thermal electric storage
Course Document
In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review the course document Augustine, Chad, Craig Turchi, and Mark Mehos. 2021. The Role of Concentrating Solar-Thermal Technologies in a Decarbonized U.S. Grid. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-5700-80574.
To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of twenty (20) questions to earn 4 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on the entire document.
The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: