Water dependency of power plants undermines energy security by making power generation susceptible to water scarcity. This study evaluates the economic performance of a novel dry-cooling system for a water-independent solar power plant. The proposed cooling system is based on the concept of earth-air heat exchangers, approaching zero environmental impact. The viability of the proposed design is discussed based on both costs and benefits, and it is compared to both conventional dry-and wet-cooling systems. The installation costs of the plant are found to be EUR 13,728/kW, resulting in the substantial levelized cost of electricity of EUR 505.97/MWh. The net present value of the studied design assuming a water-cost saving of EUR 1/m3 is found to be MEUR - 139.59. Significantly higher water prices in the future might eventually make the proposed system economically attractive when compared to water-cooling systems. However, the new system would require drastic modifications to become more attractive when compared to existing dry-cooling systems. Specific possibilities to improve it for zero-water use in thermoelectric power plants are further discussed.
dry cooling; economic analysis; energy security; solar power plants; water scarcity; zero-water plants