Concentrating solar power (CSP) plays an important role in China’s carbon neutrality path.
The geographical, technical, and CO2 emission reduction potential of CSP in China was evaluated by province.
Approximately 1.02 × 106 km2 of land (11% of land area) can support CSP development.
Over 99% of China’s technical potential is concentrated in five western provinces.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) technology can not only match peak demand in power systems but also play an important role in the carbon neutrality pathway worldwide. Actions in China is decisive. Few previous studies have estimated CSP technology’s power generation and CO2 emission reduction potentials in China. To address this knowledge gap, the geographical, technical, and CO2 emission reduction potential of CSP in China was evaluated by province based on a high resolution geographical information system with up-to-date data. A comprehensive framework including geographic and technical constrains was proposed. Exclusion criteria including solar radiation, slope, land-use type, natural reserve, and water resources were adopted to determine the suitability of CSP plant construction. Then, based on the power conversion efficiency difference from various CSP technologies, the technical potential was calculated on suitable land. The results show that approximately 1.02 × 106 km2 of land is available to support CSP development in China. Based on the available solar resource on the suitable land, the geographical potential is 2.13 × 1015 kWh. The potential installed capacity is 2.45 × 107–5.40 × 107 MW, considering four CSP technologies. The corresponding annual energy generation potential is 6.46 × 1013–1.85 × 1014 kWh. Considering the scenario of using the potential of CSP to replace the current power supply to the maximum extent, CO2 emission would have been reduced by 5.19 × 108, 5.61 × 108, and 6.24 × 108 t in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. At the provincial level, more than 99% of China’s technical potential is concentrated in five western provinces, including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Gansu, and Tibet. These results provide policy guidance and serve as a reference for the future development of CSP and site selection for CSP plant construction both in China and worldwide.