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Concentrated solar power could generate 'quarter of world's energy'

"Concentrated solar power could generate 'quarter of world's energy'(Via Guardian.co.uk)Industry groups call for solar thermal technology to expand in 'sun belt'
around world as Spain leads the fieldSolar power stations that concentrate sunlight could generate up to
one-quarter of the world's electricity needs by 2050, according to a study
by environmental and solar industry groups. The technology, best suited to
the desert regions of the world, could also create hundreds of thousands of
new jobs and save millions of tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.Concentrating solar power (CSP) uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto water.
This produces steam that can then turn turbines and generate electricity.
It differs from photovoltaics, which use solar panels to turn sunlight
directly into electricity and can operate even on overcast days. CSP only
works in places where there are many days with clear skies and is a proven,
reliable technology.At the end of 2008 CSP capacity was around 430MW, and worldwide investment
in the technology will reach€2bn (£1.8bn) this year, according to Sven Teske of Greenpeace
International and co-author of the report. He said investment could
increase, under a relatively moderate scenario, to €11.1bn by 2010 and
provide 7% of the world's generating capacity by 2030. By 2050 investment
could reach €92.5bn, creating almost 2m jobs by 2050 and saving 2.1bn
tonnes of CO2 every year.""Due to the feed-in tariff in Spain and a few schemes in the US, this
technology is actually taking off and we wanted to highlight that we have a
third big technology to fight climate change — wind, photovoltaics and now
CSP,"" said Teske.Spain is leading the field on CSP: more than 50 solar projects in the
country have been approved for construction by the government and, by 2015,
it will generate more than 2GW of power from CSP, comfortably exceeding
current national targets. Spanish companies are also exporting their
technology around the world.Environmentalists argue that many countries in the ""sun-belt"" around the
equator would benefit from CSP technology — including desert regions in the
southern United States, north Africa, Mexico, China and India.The new study, carried out by Greenpeace International, the European Solar
Thermal Electricity Association and the International Energy Agency's (IEA)
SolarPACES group, looked at three scenarios of future growth in CSP. The
first was business-as-usual reference scenario that assumed no increases at
all in CSP; the second continued the CSP investments seen in recent years
in places such as Spain and the US; while the advanced scenario was most
optimistic, removing all political and investment barriers to give figures
for the true potential of CSP.Under the third, most optimistic, scenario there could be a giant surge in
investments to €21bn a year by 2015 and €174bn a year by 2050, creating
hundreds of thousands of jobs. In this case, solar plants would have
installed capacity of 1,500GW by 2050 and provide 25% of the world's
electricity capacity. Even in the second scenario, which sees only modest
increases, the world's combined CSP capacity could reach 830GW by 2050,
representing up to 12% of the world's energy generation needs.Teske acknowledged that these estimates were far higher than official
figures from the IEA. It says that by 2050, CSP would provide only0.2% of
global power generation. But Teske added that the IEA analysis does not
assume any increases in production capacity in the next few decades, hence
CSP forms a very small part of the overall energy mix.The new report also said that CSP technology was improving rapidly, with
many new power plants fitted with storage systems for steam so that they
could continue to operate at night. In addition it said the cost of the
electricity produced , currently at €0.15 to €0.23 a kilowatt, would fall
to €0.10-€0.14 by 2020 if governments continued to support the technology