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Chapter 3

Direct Solar Energy

development (R&D), and other factors such as access to capital, and not on the mere passage of time. Private capital is flowing into all the technologies, but government support and stable political conditions can lessen the risk of private investment and help ensure faster deployment.

Potential deployment scenarios for solar energy range widely—from a marginal role of direct solar energy in 2050 to one of the major sources of global energy supply. Although it is true that direct solar energy provides only a very small fraction of global energy supply today, it has the largest technical potential of all energy sources. In concert with technical improvements and resulting cost reductions, it could see dramatically expanded use in the decades to come. Achieving continued cost reductions is the central challenge that will influence the future deployment of solar energy. Moreover, as with some other forms of renewable energy, issues of variable production profiles and energy market integration as well as the possible need for new transmission infrastructure will influence the magnitude, type and cost of solar energy deployment. Finally, the regulatory and legal framework in place can also foster or hinder the uptake of direct solar energy applications.

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