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Introduction and Context

Solar Thermal Power has tremendous potential to meet the electric power needs of the United States and the World. As shown in Figure 1, just 0.52% of the land area of the United States is enough to match 100% of U.S. electric power production, using renewable, “green” power from central receiver solar thermal powerplants. Total U.S. electric power production can be satisfied using only 2.1% of land area in the arid / desert areas of the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada and Utah. The corresponding statistic for the whole World is that only 0.14% of World land area is enough to match 100% of World electric power production, using renewable, “green” power from central receiver solar thermal powerplants. This tremendous solar power potential is currently not exploited on a large scale, simply because solar thermal power is currently not cost-competitive with dirty fossil fuel (e.g., coal) generated power or environmentally risky nuclear power generation.

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November 24, 2002

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