Integration of solar thermal and photovoltaic, wind, and battery energy storage through AI in NEOM city

Elsevier, Energy and AI, Volume 3, March 2021
Boretti A.

NEOM is a “New Future” city powered by renewable energy only, where solar photovoltaic, wind, solar thermal, and battery energy storage will supply all the energy needed to match the demand integrated by artificial intelligence techniques. Within this context, the weight of solar thermal is supposed to increase. Concentrated solar power is the only renewable energy with the added value of dispatchability. Opposite to solar photovoltaic and wind, which suffer from intermittency and unpredictability, thus necessitating economically and environmentally expensive external energy storage by batteries, concentrated solar power may be fitted with internal energy storage by molten salt providing a much cheaper and environmentally friendly alternative. Oversizing the solar field and the thermal energy storage, the otherwise traditional design with steam Rankine cycles of temperature and pressure to turbine about 565 °C and 100 bar permits highly dispatchable electricity with Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) slightly above 7.5 ¢/kWh in NEOM City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. By using higher temperature and pressure to the turbine of 730 °C and 330 bar, the LCOE can be further reduced to below 6.5 ¢/kWh. While wind and solar photovoltaic are much cheaper, at less than 3–4 ¢/kWh, their intermittency and unpredictability necessitate energy storage by Lithium-Ion batteries of additional cost 14–28 ¢/kWh. Likely, the integration of renewable energy technologies through Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the New Future in NEOM City, with solar photovoltaic, wind, battery energy storage, and solar thermal, the building blocks, and solar thermal increasing the share of energy supply.