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Costs of reducing water use of concentrating solar power to sustainable levels: Scenarios for North Africa


  • Damerau, Kerstin
  • Williges, Keith
  • Patt, Anthony G.
  • Gauché, Paul


Concentrating solar power (CSP) has the potential to become a leading sustainable energy technology for the European electricity system. In order to reach a substantial share in the energy mix, European investment in CSP appears most profitable in North Africa, where solar potential is significantly higher than in southern Europe. As well as sufficient solar irradiance, however, the majority of today's CSP plants also require a considerable amount of water, primarily for cooling purposes. In this paper we examine water usage associated with CSP in North Africa, and the cost penalties associated with technologies that could reduce those needs. We inspect four representative sites to compare the ecological and economical drawbacks from conventional and alternative cooling systems, depending on the local environment, and including an outlook with climate change to the mid-century. Scaling our results up to a regional level indicates that the use of wet cooling technologies would likely be unsustainable. Dry cooling systems, as well as sourcing of alternative water supplies, would allow for sustainable operation. Their cost penalty would be minor compared to the variance in CSP costs due to different average solar irradiance values.

Suggested Citation

  • Damerau, Kerstin & Williges, Keith & Patt, Anthony G. & Gauché, Paul, 2011. "Costs of reducing water use of concentrating solar power to sustainable levels: Scenarios for North Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 4391-4398, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:7:p:4391-4398

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zhou Yuan & Richard S.J. Tol, 2004. "Evaluating the costs of desalination and water transport," Working Papers FNU-41, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Dec 2004.
    2. Kevin Ummel, 2010. "Concentrating Solar Power in China and India: A Spatial Analysis of Technical Potential and the Cost of Deployment," Working Papers 219, Center for Global Development.
    3. Håkan Tropp and Anders Jägerskog, 2006. "Water Scarcity Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2006-31, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    4. Williges, Keith & Lilliestam, Johan & Patt, Anthony, 2010. "Making concentrated solar power competitive with coal: The costs of a European feed-in tariff," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 3089-3097, June.
    5. World Bank, 2007. "Making the Most of Scarcity : Accountability for Better Water Management Results in the Middle East and North Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6845, August.
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    1. repec:eee:rensus:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:648-667 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sharma, Chandan & Sharma, Ashish K. & Mullick, Subhash C. & Kandpal, Tara C., 2015. "Assessment of solar thermal power generation potential in India," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 902-912.
    3. repec:eee:rensus:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:916-932 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Xu, Xinhai & Vignarooban, K. & Xu, Ben & Hsu, K. & Kannan, A.M., 2016. "Prospects and problems of concentrating solar power technologies for power generation in the desert regions," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1106-1131.
    5. Köberle, Alexandre C. & Gernaat, David E.H.J. & van Vuuren, Detlef P., 2015. "Assessing current and future techno-economic potential of concentrated solar power and photovoltaic electricity generation," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 739-756.
    6. George A. Gonzalez, 2016. "Transforming Energy: Solving Climate Change with Technology Policy . New York : Cambridge University Press . 360 pages. ISBN 9781107614970, $29.99 paperback. Anthony Patt , 2015 ," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 33(1), pages 111-113, January.
    7. Labordena, Mercè & Patt, Anthony & Bazilian, Morgan & Howells, Mark & Lilliestam, Johan, 2017. "Impact of political and economic barriers for concentrating solar power in Sub-Saharan Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 52-72.
    8. Corral, Nicolás & Anrique, Nicolás & Fernandes, Dalila & Parrado, Cristóbal & Cáceres, Gustavo, 2012. "Power, placement and LEC evaluation to install CSP plants in northern Chile," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 6678-6685.
    9. Lilliestam, Johan & Bielicki, Jeffrey M. & Patt, Anthony G., 2012. "Comparing carbon capture and storage (CCS) with concentrating solar power (CSP): Potentials, costs, risks, and barriers," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 447-455.
    10. Van de Graaf, Thijs & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2014. "Thinking big: Politics, progress, and security in the management of Asian and European energy megaprojects," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 16-27.
    11. Madhlopa, Amos & Sparks, Debbie & Keen, Samantha & Moorlach, Mascha & Krog, Pieter & Dlamini, Thuli, 2015. "Optimization of a PV–wind hybrid system under limited water resources," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 324-331.
    12. Purohit, Ishan & Purohit, Pallav & Shekhar, Shashaank, 2013. "Evaluating the potential of concentrating solar power generation in Northwestern India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 157-175.
    13. del Sol, Felipe & Sauma, Enzo, 2013. "Economic impacts of installing solar power plants in northern Chile," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 489-498.


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