Solar industry ready to take off

Solar Thermal Power 2020, a blueprint to achieve 5% of the world's electricity from solar generation

Press release - 24 October, 2003
According to a report launched by Greenpeace and the European Solar Thermal Power Industry Association (ESTIA) today, the solar thermal industry is capable of becoming dynamic, innovative, sustainable and worth €7.6 billion Euros by 2020. The 'Solar Thermal Power 2020' report is a practical blueprint to show that solar thermal power is capable of supplying clean electricity to more than 100 million people living in the sunniest parts of the world within two decades (1).

The publication, presented at the Global Conference on Solar Power in Palm Springs, California, details the feasibility of supplying 5% of the world's electricity from solar thermal power by 2020. Although global electricity demand is expected to increase more than 100% by that time, this target is still achievable. Furthermore, the report provides a blueprint for action that governments can take, showing what is possible with just one type of renewable technology. Solar thermal power is a global-scale technology that has the capacity to satisfy the energy and development needs of the world, without destroying it.

"The solar thermal power industry is ready to take off", said Sven Teske from Greenpeace. "As far as climate change is concerned, the international consensus states that the world must move swiftly towards a sustainable, clean energy economy. Solar thermal power is a prime choice in developing an affordable, global energy source that replaces fossil fuels in the sunbelt regions of the world."

Following last year's Earth Summit in South Africa, the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition was created. More than 80 countries agreed to substantially increase the global share of renewable energy sources by setting clear and ambitious time-bound targets. 'Solar Thermal Power 2020 outlines what could be achieved by 2020 given the right market conditions (2). A total of 154 million tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere would have been prevented by 2020, making an important contribution to international climate protection targets.

"The aim of the blueprint is to push further forward the boundaries of technological progress, and to realise the subsequent benefits," said Georg Brakmann, ESTIA President. "Solar thermal power does not need to be invented, it is ready for global implementation today. Expansion in the solar thermal power industry will result in the creation of 200,000 jobs world-wide. The five most promising countries are Spain, the US, Mexico, Australia and South Africa, each have already more than 1000 MW of solar thermal projects expected by 2020."

Greenpeace and ESTIA are encouraging politicians and policymakers, global citizens, energy officials, companies, investors and other interested parties to support solar thermal power by taking specific steps.

Notes: (1). Solar thermal power is heat energy obtained by exposing a collection device to the rays of the sun. A solar thermal system makes use of the warmth absorbed by the collector to heat water or another working fluid, or to make steam. Hot water is used in home or commercial buildings and for industrial processes. Steam is used for process heat or for operating a turbine generator to produce electricity or industrial power. (2). From a current level of just 354 MW, by 2015 the total installed capacity of solar thermal power plants will have passed 5000 MW , according to the Greenpeace/ESTIA projections. By 2020, additional capacity would be rising at a level of almost 4500 MW each year and the total installed capacity of solar thermal power around the world will have reached 21,540 MW.