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Energy from the Desert - Feasibility of very large scale photovoltaic power generation systems

May 2003 - Edited by Professor Kosuke Kurokawa - James and James

The world's deserts are sufficiently large that, in theory, covering a fraction of their landmass with PV systems could generate many times the current primary global energy supply. Moreover, the energy produced is from solar radiation - a clean and renewable source - hence such systems would have the potential to contribute massively to the protection of the global environment.

Energy from the Desert is an extensive and high-level international study, representing the accumulated research of the world experts involved in Task VIII of the IEA PVPS Programme. To date, the market focus for photovoltaics has been on small to medium, stand-alone or building-integrated power systems, which have proven, but as yet not realized, the great potential of this technology. This definitive study evaluates the feasibility, potential and global benefits of very large scale photovoltaic power generation (VLS-PV) systems deployed in desert areas and each generating from 10MW to several gigawatts.

In three parts, the study details the background and concept of VLS-PV, maps out a development path towards the realization of VLS-PV systems, and provides firm recommendations to achieve long-term targets, based on the findings of the IEA Task VIII experts.

* photovoltaic technologies, systems design and plant operation

* finance, cost-benefits and profitability

* impact on and benefit to global, regional and local environment

* policy-level and investment issues

In addition, the study provides specific case study options for VLS-PV in desert areas, including the Sahara, Gobi and Negev deserts, and three in-depth scenarios are used to demonstrate that sustainable economic growth, sustainable technological-environmental development and sustainable financial support are possible when a long term perspective is developed and maintained.

Energy from the Desert is the first study to provide a concrete set of answers to the questions that must be addressed in order to secure and exploit the potential for VLS-PV technology and its global benefits. It will be invaluable to government, energy planners, policy makers, utilities and international organizations assessing the potential for this technology, PV Systems manufacturers and infrastructure providers wishing to develop this new market and consultants, scientists, researchers and engineers involved in the field.