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IIRC, the advantage for thermal solar plants is the 'built in' energy storage. The fluid remains hot well into the evening hours when electricity demand rises. A solution to the duck curve which PV doesn't offer.


'Built in' energy storage was a feature of some but not all solar thermal plants. Including the energy storage doesn't come free, it adds cost and complexity to the project. The Crescent Dunes plant did include molten salt energy storage. A field of mirrors focused the sun onto the top of a tower where it heated molten salt, which flowed to a storage tank and to a steam power plant. The storage tanks were apparently a point of failure for the plant in 2016, so maybe they would have been better off using the solar heat to drive the steam turbine directly.

Batteries can be used with solar electric panels to get the same result, and batteries, like solar electric panels, are commodity electronic products subject to constant improvements in price and capacity. Solar electric (and/or wind generators) plus battery hybrid plants have begun to compete in price with fossil fuel plants at favorable sites.
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