Energy from the Desert - 2013 Edition

Summary Very Large Scale Photovoltaic Power - State of the Art and Into the Future

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 energy supply. Moreover, the energy produced is from solar radiation – a clean and renewable source – hence such systems should have the potential to contribute massively to the protection of the global environment.
Energy from the Desert is extensive and high-level international study, representing the accumulated research of the worlds experts involved in Task 8 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 10 MW 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 PVPS Task 8 experts. Critical aspects examined are:

  • 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 governments, energy planners, policy makes, utilities and international organizations assessing the potential for this technology, PV-systems manufacturers and infrastructure provides wishing to develop this new market and consultants, scientists, researchers and engineers involved in the field.