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Nobel laureate Steve Chu reportedly will head the Department of Energy, a huge win for solar power. Chu is a real visionary, and solar is first on his list, so we're sending him a copy of a brand new working paper (posted today!) by David Wheeler and Kevin Ummel called Desert Power: The Economics of Solar Thermal Electricity For Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Wheeler and Ummel argue for rapid, very large scale deployment of existing solar thermal technology in North Africa and the Middle East in order to avoid construction of coal plants in Europe and drive down the cost of solar thermal technology. Using project finance calculations and a GIS analysis of solar radiation maps, land use, and possible power transmission corridors to Europe, they show that with modest subsidies, solar power generated in North Africa and the Middle East could meet the needs of 35 million Europeans by 2020. At that point, solar power would be cheaper than fossil fuels and future projects would no longer require subsidies.
This is the kind of energy revolution needed in the US and in rapidly growing developing countries, and we look forward to Secretary Chu making this a priority in President Obama’s administration.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.