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Solar power 'the next big thing'

SOLAR power plants in deserts using mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays have the potential to generate up to a quarter of the world's electricity by 2050, according to a report by pro-solar groups.

The study, by environmental group Greenpeace, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association and the International Energy Agency's SolarPACES group, said huge investments would also create jobs and fight climate change.

"Solar power plants are the next big thing in renewable energy," said Sven Teske of Greenpeace International and co-author of the report. The technology is suited to hot, cloudless regions such as the Sahara or Middle East.

The 28-page report said investments in concentrating solar power (CSP) plants were set to exceed 2 billion euros (US$2.80 billion) worldwide this year, with the biggest installations under construction in Spain and California.

"Concentrating solar power could meet up to 7 percent of the world's projected power needs in 2030 and a full quarter by 2050," it said.

CSP uses arrays of hundreds of mirrors or lenses to concentrate the sun's rays to temperatures between 400 and 1,000 degrees Celsius to provide energy to drive a power plant.


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