I think that the little solar reflectors look like machines praying to some big solar deity. How cute!
But seriously, apparently using CSP (or concentrated solar power – the little praying sun mirrors) in deserts around the world will provide a whole bunch of power – about 25% of the projected need – by 2050. It feels a little premature to predict that far ahead, but I’m not a scientist or predictor-of-solar-power-needs-person.
From the article at Consumer Energy Report:
“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.
Well, what do you know? I’m feeling a bit negative today, but I really, really hope that all of our gung-ho-ness about solar power doesn’t peter out any time soon. It just feels like we should be dumping metric crap-tons of money into this technology.