Keywords: concentrating solar power, CSP, energy scenarios, energy strategy, solar energy, renewable energy, energy economics, energy technology, solar fuel, solar electricity
Two scenarios for a solar world economy
Solar energy using Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology will become the most abundant source of renewable energy. The technology and the economics of CSP are explained. An overview is given for the deployed CSP capacity, the CSP capacity which is currently being built, and the planned capacity. We make the following assumptions: (1) The learning curve for CSP technology will finally lead to a price for the solar collector field which is half of the most competitive CSP technology that is available today; (2) It becomes technically and economically feasible to produce some sort of solar fuel out of the concentrated solar heat. The investment that is needed for a CSP capacity which is able to meet the global demand of electricity as it was in the year 2003 amounts to 18% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of one year of the whole world. At a 30% growth rate per year until the 1% GDP level is reached, followed by a constant growth, the 2003 consumption level would be met by solar electricity in the year 2047. This power production rate would be reached already in 2027, when CSP-investments would be made at the 1% GDP level immediately.