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