Why hasn’t the region conquered solar power?
In this guest article from GE, we ask why solar isn’t powering the region, and Sami Kamel of GE Energy calls on governments to subsidize solar – just like fossil fuel.
October 6, 2010 4:26 by kippreport
Every hour, the sun emits more energy onto the earth than the entire population uses in one year. The amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth on a daily basis is more than 200,000 times the total electricity that mankind generates.
A report by Greenpeace, the European Solar Thermal Power Industry Association and the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES programme, says that by 2025 the solar energy industry will attract almost US$20 billion a year in investment, employ over 50,000 people, and would have avoided the emission of 362 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.
In that context, the high volume of sunlight that the Middle East receives makes it a natural contender to lead the world’s solar energy industry — why then has it not yet happened? Could the proper harnessing of solar energy in the region be the answer to the foreseen dearth of oil as a major source of energy?
Wide-scale deployment of solar energy faces a number of challenges today. Among these challenges are: a) high investment cost of technology, b) large foot print due to low efficiency in comparison to conventional power generation, c) lack of government incentive, and d) limited understanding among policymakers and other stakeholders.
Tackling these fundamental issues and solar energy could certainly be a viable source of alternative energy for the masses, both regionally and globally. Some European countries have already been evaluating multi-billion dollar proposals that would create vast solar thermal and photovoltaic displays in various parts of the Sahara Desert in North Africa, and then provide the generated electricity to meet a substantial amount of Europe’s energy needs – the Desertec project being one example. Further on, by 2040 it has been estimated that solar thermal power plants could supply five per cent of global electricity demand.
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