Friday, 16 May 2008


From: Environment America, May 8, 2008


America could meet all of its current electricity needs with large
central concentrating solar power plants according to a report
released May 8, 2008, "On the Rise: Solar Thermal Power and the Fight
Against Global Warming" by Environment America.

Solar thermal power plants covering an area of 100 x 100-mile area in
the Southwest (slightly more than what's already been excavated for
strip mining for coal across the country), could power the entire
nation while slashing global warming emissions.

Because solar thermal energy storage allows electric generating
capacity even when the sun is not shining, it can provide "baseload
capacity," replacing traditional energy sources like coal, natural gas
and nuclear power.

"If we are going to get serious about fighting global warming and
addressing our nation's energy woes, solar energy must be part of the
solution, said Anna Aurilio, Director of Environment America's
Washington DC office. "Tapping this abundant and clean domestic energy
source must be a centerpiece of America's energy, environmental and
economic policies," she added.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has identified the potential
for more than 7,000 gigawatts (GW) of concentrating solar power
generation on lands in the southwestern United States alone -- more
than six times current U.S. electricity consumption. Other areas of
the United States, such as the mountain West, the Great Plains and
Florida, can also generate significant power from the sun.

"This report confirms what we in the industry have known for a long
time-that utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) has the
potential to provide a clean, reliable energy choice to power America
and help us achieve national energy security in the 21st century,"
said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association
in Washington, D.C. "We agree wholeheartedly with the report's
recommendation to provide the proper incentives to encourage
development of CSP plants. Specifically, it is imperative that
Congress follows through on passing a final bill to provide a multi-
year extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC) -- a policy
with support from over 85 percent of the American public," he added.

Concentrating solar power development has accelerated dramatically
since the beginning of 2007. More than 4,000 MW of solar thermal
projects are in some phase of development nationwide and could be
completed by 2012. However, solar energy tax credits that are helping
make these projects cost-effective are set to expire at the end of the
year, putting their future in doubt.

"Federal clean energy tax incentives are spurring investment, creating
thousands of "green-collar" jobs, and helping reduce global warming
pollution," said Anna Aurilio. "If Congress lets them expire, clean
energy projects will grind to a halt," she added.

Concentrating solar power plants are increasingly cost-competitive
with other power generation technologies that do not produce carbon
dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. The cost of energy from
solar thermal power plants is estimated to be competitive in cost with
theoretical coal-fired power plants that capture and store their
carbon dioxide emissions and with new nuclear power plants.

The report concludes that with leadership at the state and federal
level and the right policies, that, putting 80 gigawatts of
concentrating solar power in place by 2030 is within reach. This would
provide electricity for 25 million homes, would generate between
75,000 and 140,000 permanent jobs, would and cut global warming
pollution from U.S. electric power plants by at least 6.6 percent by
the year 2030.

Electricity generation accounts for more than a third of America's
emissions of global warming pollution. "Concentrating solar power can
make a large contribution toward reducing global warming pollution in
the United States, and do so quickly and at a reasonable cost,"
concluded Aurilio.

Download the report, "On the Rise:Solar Thermal Power and the Fight
Against Global Warming."

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