Desalination market is experiencing continuous growth due to severe water scarcity in many parts of the globe. Because of the geographical coincidence of serious water scarcity and substantial direct normal irradiation potential, concentrated solar power (CSP) driven desalination presents a potential means to tackle water scarcity. Since CSPs can generate both electricity and thermal energy, they are excellent candidates to drive desalination technologies.
This review article provides an overview of the status of state-of-the-art hybrid CSP-desalination systems. The paper reviews published studies on hybrid plants under two categories: only freshwater generation and cogenerating of power and freshwater. This review demonstrates that there are several potential ways to hybridize CSPs with desalination systems. Future research directions on CSP-desalination systems can be classified into researches on CSP technologies, desalination systems and integration schemes. Specifically, improvement of solar collection and desalination equipment, through cost reduction and efficiency enhancement, remains the largest hurdles to overcome. Developing novel hybrid schemes, by maximizing the thermal efficiency and minimizing the costs, offers a potential means to accelerate commercialization of such hybrid plants. Overall, the CSP-desalination plants are technically and environmentally attractive but there is still significant progress to be made for such plants to be economically feasible.