Report: Desert Solar Power Can Supply a Quarter of World’s Energy Needs
With advanced development and high levels of energy efficiency, concentrated solar power could meet up to 7 percent of the world’s power needs by 2030 and fully one quarter by 2050, employing 2 million people along the way.
Concentrated solar power (CSP), which utilizes mirrors to beam sunlight onto water, has the potential to generate massive amounts of electricity, according to a new study conducted by industry groups.
“Concentrating solar power could meet up to 7 percent of the world’s projected power needs in 2030 and a full quarter by 2050,” accroding to the joint report conducted by the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA), environmental group Greenpeace, and the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) SolarPACES group.
According to those estimations, massive investments will be needed in order to improve upon existing technologies. The 28-page report says that 174 billion euros ($243 billion) per year would need to be invested by 2050. Under that scenario, solar power plants would have installed capacity of 1,500 GW.
At the end of 2008 CSP capacity was around 430MW, and worldwide investment in the technology will reach 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion).
CSP uses arrays of hundreds of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays to temperatures between 400 and 1,000 Celsius (750-1,800 Fahrenheit) to provide energy to run a power plant.
Recently, a research expert noted that the Sahara Desert has the capacity to supply all of Europe’s electricity needs by installing an array of solar panels, due to the strong sun in the region.
“It [North Africa] could supply Europe with all the energy it needs,” Dr. Anthony Patt, a research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, in Austria, told scientists at this week’s climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The Sun is very strong there and it is very reliable.
Sunshine in the Sahara, according to Patt, is twice as strong as in Spain and is a constant resource rarely blocked by clouds, even in winter.