ECN publication
Solar thermal power technologies. Monograph in the framework of the VLEEM Project
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1-7-2002
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-C--02-062 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
50 Download PDF  

Existing long-term energy-environment models provide reliable scenarioprojections on energy demand and supply and related environmental consequences, under three conditions:

  • Unknown technologies cannot play a significant role, neither in energy demand, nor in energy supply, and neither in environmental consequences, under the time horizon envisaged.
  • Entirely new and unknown behaviour and preferences of individuals cannot play a significant role, neither in energy demand, nor in energy supply, under the time horizon envisaged.
  • There is no major rupture in the socio-economic system development under the time horizon envisaged, such as wars, major energy supply physical shortage, climate disasters, etc.
These conditions usually limit the time horizon in which scenario projections are reliable to a maximum of 25 years, i.e. the time necessary for a scientific breakthrough, or the period of time between two demographic generations. Beyond 25 years starts the 'very long term', in which period most models become increasingly less reliable as the time horizon enlarges. But the new challenges related to climate change, depletable resources of fossil fuels, the management of nuclear waste and the agenda for the development of the technologies necessary to face these challenges require the consideration of these issues up to 50 years or more in advance.

Since the range of possibilities in the very long term is totally open, it is important not to describe this range, but to describe the possibilities that fit within a set of overall constraints imposed on the overall system in the very long term. Instead of exploring and formalising the various causalities on the basis of our knowledge of the past, it is necessary to describe and formalise the association of causalities necessary for bringing the system from the present situation to the targeted future, through a 'back-casting' approach.

The VLEEM project has been organised according to two fields of research: technology and socio-economic development and one horizontal field of research, i.e. modelling. The technology development research programme has focussed on a selected number of new and innovative energy supply and demand technologies for which monographs have been compiled first.

This report discusses the status of different Solar Thermal Power technologies (STP). The statuses of the different technologies are presented from a rather technological point of view. The report serves as monograph document for very long modelling exercise in the VLEEM project, ECN project number 7.7372. This study focuses on global energy supply and demand until 2100. It is difficult to make predictions about the development of these technologies for such a timeframe. Because the VLEEM project focuses on technical options, this monograph pays attention to the expected breakthrough year of 'new' power production facilities, geographical spread, energy payback ratios and land, water and material needs.

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