Life Cycle Considerations of Solar Energy Technologies

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Life Cycle Considerations of Solar
Energy Technologies




Maxwell Micali

2011 WISE Intern

Yale University





Sponsored by:


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1
 
Executive Summary

The issue of energy supply in the United States is a well
-
known and urgent problem. The sun is
continuously providing the Ea
rth with monumental amounts of solar energy, and the U.S. has some of the
most exemplary solar exposure in the world for solar electricity generation. If even a small fraction of the
available solar resources were harnessed, the electricity requirements of
the U.S. would be far exceeded.
Whether the ultimate goal is to reduce dependence on oil from foreign sources or to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions, both strategies will advocate the
increased
use of domestic renewable sources of energy, like
solar. The t
echnology to accomplish this is available, and steps must be taken to move the technology into
large
-
scale service. Additionally, as any new technology should, the variety of solar power methods should
be compared and contrasted across all stages of their
lifecycles to ensure the most ideal technology is
utilized. The
current
major inhibitions
to wider
solar energy
deployment
are difficulties in accessing the use
of public lands and economies of scale that are not large enough to compete. By overcoming thes
e
challenges, solar energy can provide the U.S. with an incredible amount of energy while increasing its
energy independence and security.

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2
 
Foreword

About the Author

Maxwell Micali is a student of Mechanical Engineering at Yale University, class of 2012. Ma
xwell is also
one of the founders and co
-
presidents
of
the Yale ASME Student Section, as well as the engineering
outreach coordinator for the Synergy Nanotechnology Initiative student group. Academically, Maxwell is
interested primarily in thermal
-
fluid sc
iences and materials science. Outside of the classroom, Maxwell is a
member of Yale’s Varsity Lightweight Crew team and enjoys bicycling and hiking in his spare time.

About the WISE Program

The Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) Prog
ram was founded in 1980 as a
collaboration between several professional engineering societies with the goal of introducing engineering
students to the realm of public policy and its interaction with science and technology. Each student is
sponsored by a pr
ofessional engineering society and spends the summer in Washington, D.C., where he/she
investigates a technology
-
relevant public policy issue and develops his/her own policy recommendations to
resolve the topic. Maxwell was sponsored by ASME. For more info
rmation on the WISE Program, please
visit
http://www.wise
-
intern.org/
.

Acknowledgements

The author would especially like to thank:



Melissa Carl, Robert Rains, and the rest of the ASME staff for their guidance an
d assistance



All of the national laboratories, agencies, and other organizations that provided their information



Sandy Yeigh, Erica Wissolik, the WISE program, and all of the other WISE interns

This
work was supported by
ASME.

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3
 
Table of

Contents

Executive Summary
................................
................................
................................
................................
.........
1

Foreword
................................
................................
................................
................................
..........................
2

About the Author
................................
................................
................................
................................
.........
2

About the WISE Program
................................
................................
................................
............................
2

Acknowledgements
................................
................................
................................
................................
......
2

Abbrevi
a
tion
s
................................
................................
................................
................................
...................
4

Figures
................................
................................
................................
................................
.............................
5

Tables
................................
................................
................................
................................
...............................
6

1. Issue Definition
................................
................................
................................
................................
............
7

2. Background
................................
................................
................................
................................
................
10

2.1 The Solar Resources of th
e United States
................................
................................
............................
10

2.2 Photovoltaics
................................
................................
................................
................................
........
12

2.3 Concentrating Solar Power
................................
................................
................................
..................
13

2.4 International CSP Adoption
................................
................................
................................
.................
17

3. Life Cycle Analysis
................................
................................
................................
................................
...
20

3.1 Overview
................................
................................
................................
................................
..............
20

3.2 Upstream and Downstream Impacts of Photovoltaic Solar Panels
................................
.....................
22

3.3 Upstream and Downstream Impacts of Concentrating Solar Power
................................
...................
26

4. Current Policy
................................
................................
................................
................................
............
31

4.1 Innovation and Deployment
................................
................................
................................
................
31

4.2 Land Use
................................
................................
................................
................................
..............
34

5. Policy Recommendations
................................
................................
................................
..........................
37

5.1 Ideal Policy Recomme
ndations
................................
................................
................................
...........
37

5.2 Innovation and Deployment
................................
................................
................................
................
37

5.3 Land Use
................................
................................
................................
................................
..............
38

5.4 Disposal and Responsibility
................................
................................
................................
................
39

Works Cited
................................
................................
................................
................................
...................
40



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4
 
Abbreviations

ARRA

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009)

BLM

Bureau of Land Management

CSP

Concentrating Solar Power

CST

Concentrating Solar
-
Thermal

DC

Direct Current

DOE

Department of Energy

EERE

Energy Efficiency & Renewable
Energy

EIS

Environmental Impact Statement

FIT

Feed
-
in Tariff

FLPMA

Federal Land Policy and Management Act (1976)

FY

Fiscal Year

HTF

Heat Transfer Fluid

ITC

Investment Tax Credit

IUPAC

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

NREL


National Renewable Energy Laboratory

PV

Photovoltaics

ROW

Right
-
of
-
Way

SEGS

Solar Energy Generating Systems

SNL

Sandia National Laboratory


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5
 
Figures

Figure 1
The composition of the U.S. electricity net generation in 2009, for all
energy and for renewables.
1
................................
................................
................................
................................
................................
.........
8

Figure 2
Direct normal solar radiation in the Southwest, which represents the most suitable region for
electricity generation from concentrated solar power.
................................
................................
.................
11

Figure
3
Solar energy resources in the United States.
................................
................................
..................
12

Figure 4
Schematic of photovoltaic solar panel.
................................
................................
...........................
13

Figure 5a (left)
Schematic of parabolic trough.
................................
................................
............................
15

Figure 6a (le
ft)
Schematic of power tower system.
................................
................................
........................
15

Figure 7a (left)
Schematic of solar dish
-
engine.
................................
................................
............................
17

Figure 8
World average solar insolation, with red representing high solar insolation.

Source: NASA
......
19

Figure 9
Graphical representation of the inputs and outputs of a Life Cycle Analysis.
................................
20

Figure 10
Schematic of a power tower CSP plant with integrated thermal storage tanks.
...........................
27

Figure 11
Sample dispatch of a CSP plant with six hours of thermal energy storage at a Texas site over the
course of a winter day.
................................
................................
................................
................................
...
28

Figure 12
A map of the U.S. depicting regions of Federal (blue) and non
-
Federal (
pink) lands, which have
especially high potential for energy generation using CSP.
................................
................................
.........
35


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6
 
Tables

Table 1
Countries that have major CSP facilities in operation or under construction
................................
.
18

Table 2
Major hazards in PV manufacturing.
................................
................................
...............................
24

Table 3
Some hazardous materials used in current PV manufacturing.
................................
.......................
25


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7
 
1. Issue Definition

Energy production is vital to America. The United Stat
es has been steadily increasing its energy
consumption, and with the advent of refrigeration, air conditioning, the information and electronics
industry, and now the looming introduction and growth of other electronic products and systems, one thing
is cer
tain: energy consumption has become ingrained in the American way of life, and the energy demand
is unlikely to decrease any time soon. Energy must be reliable, sustainable, affordable, and, preferably,
under domestic control. The United States would be in
capacitated, if energy production were to suffer an
interruption, regardless how minor.

The biggest vulnerability for energy production facilities is their perpetual need for fuel. Fuel, the lifeblood
of the U.S. economy, refers not only to burned substanc
es, but also to the energy source itself. The fuels
employed in the U.S. in 2009 for electricity generation were about 45 percent coal, followed by 23 percent
natural gas, 20 percent nuclear, 7 percent hydroelectric, and about 4 percent other renewable sou
rces.
1

Figure 1 displays the composition of U.S. electricity portfolio in a graphical format. The U.S. dependence
upon foreign sources of energy, for both fossil energy and uranium for nuclear power, and even for
renewable infrastructure, is a well
-
documen
ted risk to the nation’s energy security. Additionally, domestic
oil and gas reserves are diminishing, while nuclear and coal power facilities are deteriorating as they grow
older. Replacing or restoring the aging traditional energy infrastructure will not
only cost several trillion
dollars in investments, but will also require decades to complete.
2
This presents a window of opportunity to
replace the current infrastructure with renewable energy sources. Because renewable energy sources are
potentially infi
nite, they can mitigate the energy supply disruption risk while advancing the goal of energy
independence.


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8
 

Figure
1

The composition of the U.S. electricity net generation in 2009, for all energy and for renewables.
1

Despite the
ir potential, there is currently no single renewable energy source that will supply the energy
needs of the United States. Although hydroelectric power functions well, it is only viable in regions blessed
with suitable bodies of water. Similarly, wind powe
r requires frequent and sustained periods of strong
wind. Intense solar radiation, however, strikes an expansive portion of the country, and it is as regular as
the sun rising into the sky. This combination establishes solar energy as one of the most viabl
e energy
options for the U.S.

Over 1.05x10
5
TW

of solar energy reaches the surface of the earth. If just 1 percent of this energy were
harnessed with devices that were only 10 percent efficient, over 105 TW of electricity would be generated,
which is more
than three times the projected global energy needs of 25
-
30 TW in 2050.
3
In addition, solar
energy systems capable of up to 70 percent efficiencies are currently in operation and under construction
around the world.
4


While the United States has some of t
he highest quality solar resources of any developed country, the
current U.S. energy portfolio is not indicative of it. In order to further fortify stable and constant access to
                                                           
                                                           
         
 

 

 
Electrical
-­‐
generating  capacity  is  power  and  expressed  in  units  of  kilowatts  (kW),  megawatts  (MW  =  10
3
 kW),  
gigawatts  (GW  =  10
6
 kW),  and  terawatts  (TW  =  10
9
 kW).  It  is  defined  as  the  maximum  electrical  o
utput  that  can  be  supplied  by  
a  generating  facility  operating  at  ambient  conditions.  Coal  power  plants  typically  have  generation  capacities  of  about  500  MW;  
nuclear  plants  about  1,000  MW  (1  GW);  intermittent  sources  (e.g.,  natural  gas  peaking  plants  and  in
dividual  wind  turbines)  
about  one  to  a  few  megawatts;  and  residential  roof
-­‐
top  installations  of  solar  photovoltaics  about  a  few  kilowatts.
 

 
Electricity  supply  and  consumption  is  expressed  in  units  of  kilowatt
-­‐
hours  (kWh),  megawatt
-­‐
hours  (MWh),  gigawatt
-­‐
ho
urs  (GWh),  or  terawatt
-­‐
hours  (TWh)  (10
9
 kWh).  One  kWh  is  equal  to  a  power  of  1,000  watts  (the  typical  electricity  that  is  
consumed  by  a  hand
-­‐
held  hair  dryer)  supplied  or  consumed  over  the  period  of  an  hour.  Annual  total  delivered  electricity  in  
the  United  
States  is  about  4,000  TWh  and  the  average  annual  electricity  consumption  per  U.S.  household  is  about  11,000  kWh.
 
o

1 kWh of electricity is equivalent to 3,410 Btu of thermal energy if the conversion has no inefficiencies.

o

In a 33 percent efficient power pla
nt, 10,230 Btu of input primary energy are required to produce 1 kWh of
electricity.

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9
 
electricity, the U.S. must focus more on harnessing even a small fraction of t
he immense amount of solar
energy that is delivered to the country every day. The solar electricity technologies required are already
developed and awaiting deployment, and they will only become more efficient and more inexpensive with
sustained research a
nd larger economies of scale. Other countries have accepted these axioms and are
investing heavily. The U.S. will be left behind if it fails to capitalize on this opportunity to cultivate new
energy technologies to enhance its energy portfolio, create thou
sands of American jobs, and bolster its
energy security.

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10
 
2. Background

2.1 The Solar Resources of the United States

The U.S. has some of the most ideal solar exposure in the world, particularly in the southwestern region of
the country. The average annual
solar insolation

across the U.S. is about 4.1 kWh/m
2
/day with local
averages varying from 7.7 kWh/m
2
/day in the Mojave Desert to 3.43 kWh/m
2
/day in Montpelier, Vermont.
5

Figure 2 shows the extensive solar resources available in the Southwest United States
.


There are currently two leading methods for generating electricity from sunlight: photovoltaic (PV) solar
cells and concentrating solar power (CSP).
A 2006 Western Governors’ Association analysis and a 2009
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) study both con
cluded that, in the Southwest alone, CSP systems with
thermal storage capabilities have a potential peak generation capacity of 7000 GW.
6
Further, 15
-
30 million
GWh of electricity could be generated per year, more than seven times the 4.2 million GWh consu
med by
the U.S. in 2007.
7
Even if CSP generation were only established in the Southwest, the entire energy
requisite for the country would be exceeded, provided the power transmission infrastructure were capable
of servicing the whole country. However, thi
s condition would not need to be met if CSP facilities were
interspersed throughout more of the country rather than confined to the Southwest.

                                                           
                                                           
         
 

 Insolation  is  the  amount  of  solar  energy  striking  a  flat  surface  per  unit  area  per  unit  of  time.
 
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11
 

Figure
2

Direct normal solar radiation in the Southwest, which represents the most sui
table region for electricity
generation from concentrated solar power.
8

Looking at the entire 8 × 10
12
m
2
area of the continental United States and assuming a mid
-
latitude,
day/night average solar insolation of 230 W/m
2
, the United States yields an annual,
area
-
averaged, power
generation potential of 1.84 million GW and the equivalent of about 16 billion GWh of energy over the
course of one year.
9
Moreover, if solar conversion technologies were only operating at 10 percent
efficiency (which is on the low
-
en
d of the efficiency range for current solar power technology), only 0.25
percent of the continental land area of the U.S. would be required to produce the 4.2 million GWh of
energy consumed by the entire country in 2007.
10
A map depicting the solar insolati
on of the entire U.S. is
shown in Figure 3.


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12
 

Figure
3

Solar energy resources in the United States.
11

2.2 Photovoltaics

Photovoltaics have th
eir roots in the space industry. I
n 1958 Vanguard
-
I became the first PV
-
powered
satellite,
but it was not until the 1970s that PV panels were finally adopted for use on earth. Although PVs
are often constructed from different semiconducting materials, such as silicon, cadmium telluride, copper
indium, and gallium selenide, the underlying princi
ple behind their operation is always the same. PV panels
function by converting light directly to electricity. When sunlight reaches a solar cell, one of three things
occurs: the photons of the light can pass directly through the cell; photons can reflect
off the surface of the
cell; or the semiconductor within the cell can absorb the photons. The photons in the first two scenarios do
not affec
t the cell or yield electricity. B
ut those that are absorbed by the semiconductor
in the third scenario
“knock” ele
ctrons inside the semiconductor loose from their atoms, allowing them to then move throughout
the semiconductor layer of the device. Because of the way the solar cells are constructed, the loose
electrons are only allowed to move in one direction, effectiv
ely producing an electric current within the
cell. By combining many solar cells into an array, the panel of solar cells can generate a useful supply of
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13
 
direct current (DC). A schematic of the conversion mechanism can be seen in Figure 4. Although
experime
ntal cells have exceeded 40 percent efficiency, commercial solar cells typically operate with an
efficiency of only 10 percent to 15 percent
.
12
In principle, the electricity produced in PV solar cells can
theoretically be stored with a host of energy storag
e technologies, such as advanced chemical batteries,
compressed air tanks, and flywheels. Unfortunately, these storage methods still require more development
before they are commercially viable, rendering the electricity produced by PV something must be us
ed
while it is being generated.



Figure
4

Schematic of photovoltaic solar panel.
13

2.3 Concentrating Solar Power

Concentrating solar power (CSP) works by first converting the sun’s rays into heat, and then using the heat
to operat
e a traditional heat engine. This technology has also been called concentrating solar
-
thermal power
(CST), solar thermal collection, and a few other names. Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in
Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the only large
-
scale CSP test f
acility in the United States is located, uses
the nomenclature, CSP. The conversion of sunlight to heat is accomplished by using mirrors to focus a
large amount of sunlight on a relatively small surface area, typically on a pipe containing a heat transfer
fluid (HTF) that heats up as it passes through the pipe. The reflected light can alternatively be focused
directly on a mechanical heat engine, linked to a generator. Due in part to the mirrors reflecting 93 percent
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14
 
to 97 percent of the incident light, CSP
systems currently provide overall efficiencies of 40 percent to 70
percent.
14
A major advantage of CSP systems is that the heated HTF can be stored in heat reservoirs, from
which heat can be reclaimed during times of little or no sunlight

similar to keep
ing coffee warm in a
thermos. CSP technology is one of the only renewable energy sources that can effectively store excess
energy because storing energy as heat is much simpler and more cost effective than storing electricity in
advanced batteries or other
energy storage mechanisms that still require substantial research advancements
in order to be commercially viable. Various types of proven CSP systems have been constructed
.
15
The
three main manifestations of CSP are parabolic troughs, power towers, and di
sh
-
engines.


Parabolic trough systems consist of a field of long, parabolic mirrors, each with a pipe spanning the length
of its central axis. This pipe is carefully positioned along the focal line of the parabola, so all of the sunlight
reflects off of t
he mirror surface and onto the pipe. The pipe is specially coated to absorb sunlight, heating
it to internal temperatures of around 700˚ F.
16
A schematic and an actual photo of a trough system are
shown in Figures 5a and 5b. By pumping HTF through the pipe,
heat is transferred from the pipe to the
fluid, and ultimately from the fluid to serve a purpose, such as powering a conventional Rankine or Brayton
th
ermodynamic cycle steam turbine
where the heat is finally utilized to produce electricity. In order to
e
nsure optimum efficiency, the troughs track the sun’s position over the course of the day and slowly rotate
to point directly at the sun as it moves across the sky.


The
Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS)
facility in the Mojave Desert is the largest s
olar power plant
in the world, and it is composed entirely of parabolic trough CSP devices. The first section of
SEGS
was
built in 1984; eight more sections were constructed by 1990, leaving
SEGS
with an operating capacity of
310MW and the ability to power
over 230,000 homes. Further,
SEGS
offsets 3,800 tons of pollutants
annually that would have otherwise been produced by traditional fossil fuels.
17

SEGS
is still fully
operational, and all of the power it produces is purchased and distributed by Southern Ca
lifornia Edison.
18

The 1,000 MW
Blythe Solar Power Project
that is currently under construction in Riverside, California on
Bureau of Land Management land is also going to employ parabolic trough solar collectors. The
Blythe
Solar Power Project
will be the
largest CSP facility in the world, upon completion.
19

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15
 

Figure
5
a (left)
Schematic of parabolic trough.

Figure 5b (right)
Photo of an operational trough array.
20


Power tower systems are made up of a field of computer
-
controlled, fl
at mirrors, called heliostats. All of
the heliostats reflect sunlight onto a single tower located in the center of the field. A schematic and an
actual photo of a power tower system are shown in Figures 6a and 6b. Like parabolic troughs, these
heliostats a
lso track the sun throughout the day to keep the light focused on the tower. Because such a large
amount of sunlight is being focused on a relatively small region of the tower, these systems can operate at
higher temperatures than trough systems, typically
from 800˚ F to 1000˚ F.
21
Higher operating temperatures
yield higher efficiencies in the steam turbine stage of the process, resulting in ultimately lower
-
cost
electricity. The higher operating temperature of these systems allows the employment of molten s
alt
mixtures as the HTF that gets pumped through the system, a fluid that retains its heat especially well while
contained in a thermal storage unit.
22
The addition of thermal storage units is currently a significant cost,
but the cost barrier will decrease
with further research into thermal storage technology and with the
development of larger economies of scale. This is an important field for continued development.



Figure
6
a (left)
Schematic of power tower system.

Figure 6b (ri
ght)
Photo of an operational power tower and heliostat array.

23

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16
 

First deployed in the United States in 1982, power tower technology has had promising pilot
demonstrations. From 1982 to 1988, a 10
-
megawatt facility called
Solar One
near Barstow, California

produced more than 38,000,000 kWh of electricity.
Solar One
was then closed and retrofitted into
Solar
Two
, opening in 1995. Among other alterations,
Solar Two
used a molten salt mixture HTF and employed a
thermal storage system. The thermal storage syste
m allowed
Solar Two
to deliver continuous, 24 hour per
day, power to the grid for seven straight days of demonstration. After its demonstration period expired,
Solar Two
was decommissioned in 1999
.
24



Despite the success of these pilot demonstrations, ther
e are only two power tower facilities currently being
operated or constructed in the United States.
Sierra SunTower
, built and operated by eSolar, has been
operating in Lancaster, California since the spring of 2010. Although it is a relatively small 5 MW
facility
on a 20 acre site, eSolar boasts many of
Sierra SunTower’s
benefits:

25



Power for up to 4,000 homes
;



Creation of 250 construction jobs and 21 permanent jobs
;



Annual CO
2
reduction of 7,000 tons, equivalent to removing 1,368 automobiles from the road
,
saving 650,000 gallons of gasoline, or planting 5,265 acres of trees
;



Readily available power during peak demand, which is typically during hot, sunny afternoons
;
and,



Economic benefits for the local community
.

Additionally,
Sierra SunTower
generates its
power with a refurbished 1947 GE steam turbine generator,
demonstrating how seamlessly CSP can integrate into and/or utilize preexisting equipment in traditional
power facilities.
26
The ability to reuse components of facilities, which CSP facilities may re
place, presents a
major capital savings during construction, effecting lower power costs. The second power tower facility
currently in the U.S. is the
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
. It is a 392 MW power tower facility
currently under constructio
n in the Mojave Desert, and it is scheduled to begin operation in 2013.


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17
 
Dish
-
engine systems are the third main type of CSP arrangement. Resembling a satellite dish, each dish
-
engine consists of mirrors distributed across a parabolic dish, reflecting and c
oncentrating sunlight onto a
receiver fixed at the focal point. A schematic and a photo of an operating dish
-
engine system are shown in
Figures 7a and 7b. This receiver can either have HTF passing through it, similar to the other CSP types, or
the receiver
itself can be a Stirling or other heat engine paired with a generator. Stirling engines are a type
of external combustion engine, and they operate when one side of the engine is hotter than the other side,
increasing in efficiency as the temperature diffe
rence increases. Using a Stirling engine as a receiver in a
dish
-
engine is effective because all of the incident sunlight can be focused on a single side of the engine,
res
ulting in temperatures of approximately 1200˚ F in that engine region.
27
Like parabolic troughs and
power tower heliostats, dish
-
engine systems also track the sun throughout the day, keeping sunlight focused
on the receiver. Each unit is typically capable o
f producing 1
-
40 kW, depending on its size and design. Any
number of units can be combined in an array to match the power requirements of an application.
28




Figure
7
a (left)
Schematic of solar dish
-
engine.

Figure 7b (right)
Phot
o of an operational dish
-
engine.

29


2.4 International CSP Adoption

Many countries have begun to embrace CSP as both a viable energy source and as a new technological
frontier to explore. Table 1 displays which countries are currently operating or construct
ing major CSP
facilities, as well as how many of each type of CSP facility they have.



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18
 
Table
1

Countries that have major CSP facilities in operation or under construction
30
,
31
,
32
,
33
,
34
,
35
,
36
,
37

CSP Type

Region

Quantity of
Facilities

Capacity (MW)

Spain

32

2100

USA

7

1744

Iran

2

17.25

India

1

50

Algeria

1

25

Morocco

1

20

Egypt

1

20

Italy

1

5

Parabolic Trough

WORLD

46

3981.25

USA

2

375

Spain

3

48

Germany

1

1.5

France

1

1.4

Power Tower

WORLD

7

425.9

USA

1

1.5

Spain

1

1

Dish
-
engine

WORLD

2

2.5

TOTAL


55

4409.65



The majority of high solar insolation regions around the globe are high
-
growth markets, as shown on the
world solar insolation map in Figure 8. If American
-
made CSP
technology is driving innovation, solar
technology has potential to be a major American export. Additionally, as the developing worlds steadily
increase their energy consumption over the next two decades, the global energy crisis will become
progressively
more severe than it already is. It is important that renewable energy technologies like solar
are ready for deployment when these countries expand, or these countries will be relying on the already
stressed petroleum supply chain as well.

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19
 

Figure
8

World average solar insolation, with red representing high solar insolation.

38
Source: NASA

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20
 
3. Life Cycle Analysis

3.1 Overview

When any technology is evaluated for efficiency, safety, energy consumption, environmental impact, and
other
performance metrics, it is common practice to only consider how the technology performs while it is
in use. It is critical to consider its entire life cycle before any conclusions are drawn. Adding life cycle
assessment to the decision
-
making process prov
ides an understanding of the human health and
environmental impacts that are not traditionally considered when selecting a product or process. No
standardized life cycle analysis currently exists, but this crucial information still provides a way to accoun
t
for the full impacts of resource and technology options.
39
This includes looking at upstream impacts like
raw materials acquisition, manufacturing, and shipping; downstream impacts such as removal and waste
management; the impacts of the use of the produc
t such as maintenance and power consumption; and all of
the inputs and outputs associated with each of those life phases. This is graphically represented in Figure 9.



Figure
9

Graphical representation of the inputs and outputs o
f a Life Cycle Analysis.
40

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21
 
To demonstrate why a full life cycle analysis is especially revealing, consider the energy consumption of
concrete. Concrete uses considerably more energy in all other phases of its life than during the period in
which it is servi
ng its functional purpose. The production of concrete mix consumes large quantities of
energy because the mixture must be superheated in order to “activate” it. Without activation, the necessary
chemical reactions will not occur later in life when the mix
is blended with water, and the concrete will
never set into the familiar hardened stone
-
like material. Without taking into account the production of
concrete mix, concrete can be viewed as an energy
-
independent technology because it sits motionless
whereve
r it is placed. Aside from the energy required to heat the activation furnace, the machinery that
transports the heavy mix and the machinery that churns and pours the wetted mixture also require energy.
Further, because concrete is relatively dense and hea
vy, demolition and removal of concrete at the end of
its life is an energy intensive process as well. This typically requires the use of heavy machinery and/or
explosives to remove it, followed by more machinery and more energy to transport the waste to it
s final
resting place.


Another notion that must be considered during a LCA is the idea of risk assessment. The amount of risk
present corresponds to the threat of health and environmental harm occurring. This is an important quantity
for both the workers
and the immediate surroundings of a factory.
The International Union of Pure
and
Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)
define
s
risk, R
, as

€
R

f
(
H
×
E
)
,

Equation
1

where
f
indicates that risk is a function of intrinsic hazard,
H
,
and exposure,
E
.
41


There is a significant difference between hazard and exposure. Because hazard is an inherent characteristic
of the subject, the level of hazard associated with that subject is constant. The level of exposure, on the
other hand, is somet
hing that is capable of changing with time. The laws of statistics mandate that if an
event has even the slightest probability of occurring, it will eventually happen. Even if extreme measures
are taken to prevent exposure, all systems can fail, so some ex
posure will inevitably occur. From this
knowledge coupled with an inspection of Equation 1, it is clear that the most effective way to decrease risk
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22
 
is to decrease the underlying hazard. The only way to seriously mitigate the risk of a technology is to use

more benign materials and less hazardous processes.
42

3.2 Upstream and Downstream Impacts of Photovoltaic Solar Panels

Photovoltaic solar panels, like many other renewable energy technologies, do not produce any emissions or
consume any energy during the u
se phase of their life. However, because the panels must be manufactured
in order to be used and must also be properly disposed of once they have reached the end of their useful
life, both the upstream and downstream impacts of PV panels should be consider
ed.


PV panels depend on critical materials, which are defined by the DOE as those materials that are important
to the technology economy and also present a risk of supply disruption.
43
According to a 2010 DOE report
on critical materials strategy, clean en
ergy technologies represented 20 percent of the portfolio of critical
materials used, many of which are at risk of supply disruptions in the short term (0
-
5 years).
44
Although the
magnitude of this risk is likely to decrease in the long run, the risk will s
till be present, nonetheless. The
source of risk does not have to do with scarcity of materials, but originates instead from the reliability of
their supply chains.


PV panels require elements such as arsenic, gallium, and indium, of which the U.S. has ver
y little
production, leaving the U.S. to rely on imports
.
45
While China controls 95 percent of the global production
of rare earth metals,
46
the United States, Canada, and Australia all possess significant rare earth resources.
Opening new mines requires lar
ge capital investments and long lead times, making it more attractive to
import these materials from well established mines in China.
47
Transporting resources from China to PV
manufacturers in the U.S. consumes a considerable amount of energy, which increas
es the amount of time a
PV panel must operate to recover the total sum of energy used to produce it.
48
As demonstrated on multiple
occasions in the fossil fuel energy supply chain, relying on imports renders the U.S. vulnerable to
geopolitical risk events.


Once the resources are procured, the solar cells still need to be manufactured. The production of solar cells
is a very high technology, material
-
intensive, and energy
-
intensive operation, very similar to the processes
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23
 
involved in the manufacture of integ
rated circuits and other electronics.
49
Another parallel between PV
panels and the high technology industry is their inherent toxicity, due to the integration of materials like
arsenic and cadmium. Ideally, solar electricity would not require the use of tox
ic materials like arsenic and
cadmium.


Aside from the toxicity of the raw materi
als themselves, many
of
the
chemicals used in the processi
ng steps
of PV manufacture also
yield major hazards. Some of the hazards are listed in Table 2 and Table 3.
Safeguard
s and regulations in the U.S. and other western countries are typically adequate to protect against
regular exposure, but as more production moves abroad to developing countries, these safeguards may be
neglected or may not exist entirely
.
50
The U.S. manufa
ctured 43 percent of the global PV supply in 1995, a
quantity that outsourcing has drastically reduced to only 6 percent as of 2009.
51
Of course, the energy cost
and impacts associated with transporting a solar panel produced offshore to the U.S. are higher
than
manufacturing the product domestically.


Photovoltaics have a relatively short lifetime of only 15
-
25 years,
52
and since they are composed of various
hazardous materials, the greatest public health threat that PV poses stems from their disposal. Simil
ar to
other forms of E
-
waste, if the panels are not properly decommissioned at the end of their life, various types
of toxic or carcinogenic leachate can permeate the groundwater as the retired PV panels remain in
landfills.
53
This leaching process is accel
erated if the solar panels are damaged or shuttered.
54
Therefore,
proper disposal of PV panels is critical to attenuating their overall environmental health and safety impact.
The European PV industry established an industry
-
wide take
-
back program called PV
CYCLE, but this
program is still only voluntary. There is no single industry
-
wide PV recycling program in the U.S.
55

Instead,

product take
-
back and recycling programs vary by manufacturer. Like Europe, PV recycling in the
U.S. is voluntary, and there is no
federal regulation specifically addressing PV disposal. In addition, the
economic incentives for PV recycling are inadequate to drive volunteer recycling from the consumer, and
because the waste streams are relatively small, PV recycling is also not econo
mically viable for the
recycler.
56
For as long as U.S. companies are not taxed for their carbon dioxide emissions, it is more
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24
 
inexpensive for PV manufacturers to use new, raw materials, despite the fact that using new materials is a
more energy intensive pr
ocess
.
57

Table
2

Major hazards in PV manufacturing.
58







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25
 
Table
3

Some hazardous materials used in current PV manufacturing.
59




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26
 
3.3 Upstream and Downstream Impacts of Concentrating Solar Power

Concentrati
ng solar power systems do not require DOE
-
designated critical materials. The primary
construction materials are glass, concrete, common metals, plastic, and some sort of HTF. All of these
materials are readily and domestically available, and, aside from th
e HTF, these basic materials are
typically used as structural materials in PV panels as well. Molten salt mixtures, oils, and water/steam are
some HTF options, and the HTF is retained within and recirculated throughout the CSP system.

Along with using comm
on materials, the CSP manufacturing processes are more standard, lower
-
technology machining operations than those used to manufacture PV panels. The simpler fabrication steps
require less energy and use material more efficiently, making them more economica
l and less impactful
than the processes used by the semiconductor industry.


Like PV, CSP systems do not emit pollutants or consume energy while in use; however, CSP has two main
advantages over PV durin
g its use phase of life. First
, CSP can store excess
energy for use overnight if a
thermal storage tank is added to the system.
60
While more advanced chemical battery technology needs to
be developed for PV energy storage to be commercially viable, thermal energy storage is as simple as
transferring a large v
olume of heated HTF to an insulated container, where the HTF will remain hot until it
is needed. The efficiency of a thermal storage tank is about 98.5 percent; so nearly all of the heat that is
stored inside it can be recovered and used for energy product
ion later.
61
Because the HTF transferred to the
thermal storage tanks is the same HTF that is circulated throughout and heated by the CSP system during
operation, integrating an in
-
line thermal storage reservoir does not present a major engineering challeng
e.
A schematic of a power tower CSP system with thermal storage reservoirs is shown in Figu
re 10 below, in
which the large
red tank is the thermal storage unit. Using thermal storage allows the plant to decouple the
collection of energy from the production
and sale of electricity, allowing it to selectively produce electricity
during periods of high demand. The plant can collect and store heat during afternoon periods of low energy
use and high solar insolation, and then use that stored energy at times when
there is little sunlight but
electricity demand and/or energy prices are high.
62
Figure 11 shows a graphical representation of this
technique for a CSP plant with thermal energy storage at a Texas site over the course of a winter day.


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27
 

Figure
10

Schematic of a power tower CSP plant with integrated thermal storage tanks.
63

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28
 



Figure
11

Sample dispatch of a CSP plant with six hours of thermal energy storage at a Texas site over the course of a
winter day. Th
e blue plot represents when the system is collecting heat from solar energy. The green plot represents
when the steam turbine is operating. Note that when the system is collecting heat while the turbine is not operating, all
of the collected heat is stored
in the thermal storage tank. Alternatively, if the turbine is operating while the system is
not collecting heat, the turbine is operating solely with stored heat. The red plot represents the fluctuation of electricity
prices over the course of the day. Th
ermal energy storage allows the plant to decouple collection and production of
energy and to selectively produce when it is most valuable.
64

Secondly, CSP is 3 to 7 times more efficient than PV at converting solar radiation into a useable form of
energy, du
e to the fact that sunlight can be more readily converted directly into heat than directly into
electricity.
65
Once heated, the thermal energy in the HTF can be used to create steam, capable of being fed
directly into any conventional steam turbine in the c
ountry. This facilitates the hybridization of power
plants, where emission
-
free CSP is used to drive the steam turbine whenever possible. If there is
insufficient sunlight and the thermal storage has been depleted, another energy source like biomass or
nat
ural gas
could serve
as backup power for the turbine. This ensures continuous power output from the
hybrid facility in any conditions. With continued research in thermal storage methods, the duration of
periods of required complimentary power will subside
and could potentially be eliminated.
Solar Two
, a
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29
 
demonstration power tower facility with thermal storage that entered operation in Barstow, California in
1995, delivered continuous power to the grid for a seven
-
day period, relying strictly on solar energy
the
entire time.
66
Since it was decommissioned in 1999, the thermal storage technology used in
Solar Two
was
decades behind the state
-
of
-
the
-
art. Current and future innovations could provide hybrid power plants with
longer periods of decreased
-
cost operati
on. The economic benefits of improved thermal storage are clear
and ultimately make CSP more cost
-
effective.


The benefits of heat generation extend beyond conversion to electricity

heat itself is a coveted
commodity, and about one
-
third of the U.S. ener
gy supply is consumed for the production of industrial
heat.
67
The chemical, pharmaceutical, and refinery industries, for example, could purchase heat directly
from CSP facilities to serve as process heat in their factories. With nearly 163,000 industrial a
nd
commercial boilers in the U.S. consuming a total of 8.1 quads of fuel energy per year, the energy
equivalent of about 1.5 trillion gallons of crude oil, there is a sizeable market for heat in the industrial
sector.
68
There is a finite efficiency associa
ted with converting the heat to electricity, as well as with
converting electricity to process heat. By transferring the heat directly to industrial consumers, these two
conversion steps are avoided. This eliminates two efficiency losses that burden tradit
ional energy supply
methods, resulting in higher total efficiency.


One advantage PV has over CSP is that CSP systems require cooling, which is typically done with water.
Water is also required for periodic cleaning of the mirrors, the frequency of which d
epends on local
environmental conditions. Even though air
-
cooled CSP systems exist, and although the cooling and
cleaning water can be recycled, water
-
usage should be considered in CSP’s life cycle analysis.


While photovoltaic semiconductors have a termi
nal lifetime, the lifetime of a CSP
facility is indefinite,
depende
nt on routine maintenance. Occasionally, mirrors require replacement after incurring damage due
to exceptionally high winds, but this is infrequent and rare. For example, of the 936,384 par
abolic mirrors
at the
SEGS
facility in California’s Mojave Desert, only about 0.3 percent of them need to be replaced each
year, and the plant has been operating continuously since 1984. Because CSP mirrors are composed of
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30
 
glass and/or inert metal films, a
damaged mirror does not threaten the environment with the chemical
releases that a damaged PV panel does. Additionally, recycling and waste
-
management facilities already
have well
-
established programs to reprocess nearly all of the materials used in a CSP
facility.

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31
 
4. Current Policy

4.1 Innovation and Deployment

From fiscal year (FY) 2002 to FY 2007, renewable electricity R&D programs were appropriated a total of
$1.4 billion, while R&D funding for analogous fossil fuel programs during that period was $3.1
billion.
69
In
the U.S., traditional energy receives over twice the federal funding for research than renewable energy. The
fossil fuel industry is already one of the most profitable and well
-
established industries in the world, and
these companies should f
ully assume the burden of research funding for new fossil fuel technologies as a
cost of conducting business. Additionally, much of the research being done in the fossil fuel sector is
researching how to clean up the damage their use has caused, and contin
ues to cause. This issue does not
extend to renewable energy systems because they are inherently cleaner, by design.


Differences in research funding aside, looking at tax expenditures further exposes the U.S. lack of
renewable adoption. During that same
six
-
year span from FY 2002 to FY 2007, fossil fuels received the
largest share of electricity
-
related tax expenditures, totaling over $13.7 billion

a $13.7 billion revenue
loss for the U.S. This was approximately five times the $2.8 billion in tax expend
itures renewable energy
sources received.
70
Federal subsidies should be used to research, jumpstart, and deploy new and innovative
technologies, while maturation should be left to market forces.


In 2005, the Energy Policy Act was enacted, an energy and res
earch development program that presided
over renewable, energy efficient, and climate change technology. The act sanctioned a 30 percent
investment tax credit (ITC) for installing commercial or residential solar energy and fuel cell systems
between January
1, 2006 and December 31, 2007. In 2007, the solar ITC was extended for another year,
followed by an additional 8
-
year extension in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
71


The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energ
y (EERE) has been using
federal funding in its PV Incubator Program. Executed through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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(NREL), the program has made a total of $50 million available to small businesses developing PV
technologies since 2007, with the
objective of moving these technologies from prototype to pilot scale in 18
months.
72
NREL has awarded 20 companies each with between $1 million and $4 million in grants since
the program’s inception.
73
Consequentially, the private sector has invested over $
1.3 billion and over 5,000
full
-
time American jobs have been created, all with the intent of increasing the solar energy capacity of the
United States.
74
Despite the harsh economic climate of recent years, this program has had an impressive
return on the ta
xpayer money used to fund it. Some of the program’s success can be attributed to NREL’s
periodic progress reviews of each funded company. If a company does not meet milestones that were
decided upon by it and NREL at the onset of development, that company
is removed from the program and
the remainder of their subcontract dollars is withheld by NREL to fund new companies
.
75
This serves to
establish a high level of accountability within each supported company because NREL threatens them with
termination every
nine months.
Thus far, s
ome successful participants
of the PV Incubator Program
include
:
76



PrimeStar, which was acquired by GE
;



Semprius, which Siemens purchased a 16% stake in
;



Abound
;



Calisolar
;



1366
; and,



Solopower
.

With a 25
-
to
-
1 ratio of private capita
l to federal investments and an increasing number of resulting
American solar jobs, the PV Incubator Program has made an impact on the industry.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was passed by Congress on February 19, 2009 in
direct respon
se to the recent economic crisis, and its main goals are to create new jobs, maintain existing
jobs, and to spur long
-
term economic growth. By focusing some of its efforts on planning investments in
domestic renewable energy, the ARRA attempts to advance a
ll three of its priorities.
77
Section 48C made
up to $2.3 billion in competitive tax expenditures available for advanced energy manufacturing projects.
48C was a step in the right direction, but the advanced energy industry encountered two salient issues wi
th
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its structure. First
, the program was oversubscribed, and the competitive nature of the program resulted in
only a fraction of applying firms receiving a credit. Secondly, the $2.3 billion cap has already been
reached.
78


Also included in the ARRA, the 1
603 Treasury Grant Program is considered by Marshal Salant, Managing
Director at Citigroup Global Markets Inc., and many others to have been the most compelling and effective
national policy to promote renewable energy investment and development. The progr
am allows commercial
solar property owners to receive a 30 percent grant rather than the 30 percent solar ITC. Applicant projects
that commence construction by December 31, 2011 and conclude before December 31, 2016 are eligible.
Since July of 2009, the 16
03 Treasury Grant Program has stimulated the direct and indirect creation of
approximately 45,000 U.S. jobs in the solar industry, along with the industry experiencing 100% growth in
employment from 2009 to 2010.
79
Additionally, the program has distributed
$936 million in total grants to
solar projects and has supported over $3.1 billion in investment.
80

In February 2011, the DOE announced the “SunShot Initiative,” a $27 million solar energy technologies
program. The goal of the program is to reduce the cost
of solar energy systems to 6 cents per kilowatt
-
hour
by 2020; the amount that the DOE believes will make solar energy cost
-
competitive with other forms of
energy and will ultimately result in a rapid and large
-
scale adoption of solar power
.
81


The primary m
echanism through which the DOE plans to accomplish this is to boost domestic
photovoltaics manufacturing. The U.S. was once the world leader in manufacturing PV materials, owning
43 percent of the market in 1995, but that percentage plummeted to a mere 6 p
ercent by 2009. With one of
the SunShot goals being to increase the amount of the country’s power generated by PV from less than 1
percent to 14 percent by 2030, immense quantities of PV materials will be required.
82


Other countries have opted for differen
t methods to spur solar technology adoption. As of early 2010, at
least 50 countries worldwide employ feed
-
in tariffs (FIT) to spur growth of the renewable energy industry,
over half of which have been existence since 2005.
83
This includes developed countri
es like Germany and
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the United Kingdom; transition countries like Macedonia and Serbia; and developing countries like Kenya
and Nicaragua

all countries that the United States has led in science and technology for over a century
.
84

4.2 Land Use

All utility
-
scale power plants require a substantial amount of land, and this is true for both traditional and
alternative energy sources. Excluding the land required for mining and refining fuels, traditional power
plants require between 0.25 acres to 1 acre of land
per MW of generating capacity. Taking the mining and
refining land into account, the oil and gas industries together were leasing over 44.5 million acres of public
land in 2008.
85
A CSP facility requires about 5 acres per MW of generating capacity, which i
s more land
than traditional power, but CSP does not require external fuel preprocessing facilities.


The most cost
-
effective locations for utility
-
scale solar projects are in the U.S. Southwest.
86
The
Department of Energy determined that the Southwest has
a solar capacity of nearly 7,000 GW. The
majority of the land in this region is federally managed public land, requiring approval before construction
permits are granted. Figure 12 shows the amount federal lands in the U.S. that have especially high
potent
ial for CSP energy generation.

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35
 

Figure
12

A map of the U.S. depicting regions of Federal (blue) and non
-
Federal (pink) lands, which have especially
high potential for energy generation using CSP.
87

In order to utilize public lands
overseen by the federal government, the Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) requires proposed solar projects to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before
the U.S. Department of the Interior will issue construction permits. The BLM was granted
its authority to
permit the development of energy facilities on public land by Title V of the Federal Land Policy and
Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976,
88
and the permitting process must meet the strict review requirements
of the National Environmental Policy
Act of 1969.
89
This permit, called a Right
-
of
-
Way (ROW) permit,
requires coordinated analyses by the federal, state, and local stakeholders to complete the EIS, and can take
from three to five years to complete.
90
The companies submit to a strict audit of t
heir detailed construction
plans, environmental impact and mitigation strategies, and pre
-
application meetings with other land
managers and stakeholders, such as:
91



Federal agencies (e.g., Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Serv
ice,
Forest Service, and National Park S
ervice);

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36
 


Managers of adjacent or proximate BLM field offices and National Land
scape Conservation
System units;



Tribal governments;



State agencies (e.g., State Land Department, State P
arks, and State Fish and Game); a
nd,



County and local government agencies (e.g., county jurisdictions, managers of municipal
watersheds and local parks).

Since the lengthy process presents difficulty to solar projects that are attempting to qualify for certain
funding programs before they
expire, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar introduced a “Fast
-
Track” status
to expedite ROW permit processing for solar projects on lands in the West on June 29, 2009. The “Fast
-
Track” initiative was motivated by the December 2010 deadline to qualify f
or ARRA funding programs.
92

Because of the “Fast
-
track” status, the first utility
-
scale solar projects were granted public land use permits
in 2010.
93


The BLM has not been this tentative to permit public land use for other purposes. In the last 20 years, ov
er
74,000 permits to drill for oil and gas on public lands were granted.
94
In total, the oil and gas industries
currently have permits for the use of 13 million acres of public land.

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5. Policy Recommendations

Concentrating solar power alone will not fully r
esolve the current and future energy issues of the United
States, nor is the goal of this report to assert that position. Diversifying energy supplies advances national
energy security, and regions should draw from the energy sources that are available to
them. However, for
the large area of the U.S. that does have immense solar resources, establishing CSP facilities to serve as
large
-
scale power producers should be a high priority. CSP presents unmatched efficiencies, reduced
impacts on overall public heal
th and on the environment, the ability to shift electricity generation periods
via integrated energy storage, and the advantages associated with being fueled by a virtually infinite
resource.

5.1 Ideal Policy Recommendations

The most effective means of pro
moting CSP technology would be to set a price on carbon emissions and to
revoke tax benefits for traditional fuel sources. This would serve the dual purpose of shifting the market
toward low
-
carbon energy sources, like CSP, while generating revenue for the
government that could be
applied to further R&D for renewable technologies. If all done at once, the immediate application of these
policies would have severe effects on the economy, bringing with it unfavorable repercussions. But, if such
policies were g
radually phased in, the economic detriment would likely be depreciated and mild. It is
impossible to model for innovation, and any acceleration in the scaling and deployment of emerging
technologies would reduce the cost of this transition.

5.2 Innovation
and Deployment

The first priority in advancing the adoption of CSP technology should be reducing the overall cost of CSP
power, realized through research and development. This could be accomplished by administering cost
shared research and development con
tracts through NREL or SNL, similar to the PV Incubator program.
These programs heavily emphasize progress because the developer risks funding termination unless
ambitious, predetermined milestones are achieved at regular intervals in the research process.
Cost sharing
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38
 
programs could also benefit from upgraded facilities and staff increases at the sponsoring national
laboratory.


Further, existing solar funding initiatives can and should be reprogrammed to target a wider breadth of the
solar industry. PV R&
D receives the majority of current solar funding because most of the programs are
not required to fund CSP. The initiatives should be clearly directed at the solar industry as a whole,
including both PV and CSP allocations.


Another possibility for the U.S
. to expand its solar generation capacity is to follow the lead of other
countries that have successfully instituted FIT programs. By examining the array of FIT policies used
around the world, policy makers in the U.S. may be able to design a FIT that appl
ies to American solar
power.

5.3 Land Use

Processing of solar ROW permits needs to be done more efficiently and with an abbreviated turnaround
time. As the aging U.S. energy infrastructure will eventually turn over, it presents a window of opportunity
duri
ng which new technologies need to be deployed. Failure to take advantage of this timeframe could lock
in older, less ideal energy technologies for decades. Because there is a long lead
-
time for deploying new
technologies, the U.S. needs to exhibit its comm
itment to bolstering its renewable energy resources by
promoting these new technologies like CSP and by reducing the current legal barriers to their installation.


This can be accomplished by using all or part of the revenues generated by solar development
on public
lands to fund solar permit processing. The BLM Renewable Energy Coordination Offices should collect the
solar land use rents and royalties from permitted solar projects. Distributing the revenues to all of the
agencies, state governments, and lo
cal governments involved in solar permit processing will ensure that the
permitting process functions as rapidly as possible without relying on external funding.


Another way to foster increased access to public land for solar projects is to establish area
s of land within
the U.S. that are designated solar energy sites. “Limbo Lands” are federal lands that are formerly
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contaminated, damaged, or handicapped in some way. Typical Limbo Lands include former Superfund
sites, landfills, abandoned mine lands, degr
aded farmlands, former industrial sites, and certain government
installations.
95
Conservation groups present some of the largest opposition to large solar installations
because of the impacts they may have on local habitats, but many of these groups support
the use of Limbo
Lands for solar installations because their respective local habitats have already been compromised by
previous development.

5.4 Disposal and Responsibility

A national PV recycling program should be established in the U.S. Either man
aged
by industry or by the
federal government
, the need a single, effective program is great. The more time spent without a recycling
program in the U.S. precipitates amplified threats to public health and to environmental safety. Once the
national recycling pr
ogram is founded, participation should be a requirement for both manufacturers and
consumers of PV panels.


To raise awareness about the issues relating to decommissioned PV panel disposal, informational materials
should be distributed to current and futur
e PV consumers. This can be accomplished with an educational
pamphlet describing some of the environmental consequences of improper disposal, as well as advising the
consumer on appropriate procedures to follow when the PV panel expires. Additionally, advi
sory labels
should be affixed to every new PV panel sold to further clarify that PV panels must be properly disposed of
after use and recycled, if possible. These educational materials should be either standardized throughout the
PV industry or federally d
istributed.


Once the issue of PV disposal is brought under control, prior environmental damage has still been caused.
In order to ameliorate previous harm, a fund should be established with the sole purpose of
decontaminating and restoring sites that have
been affected by solar installations and/or disposal. This
should be focused both on the cleanup of hazardous contaminants and on the restoration of formerly
compromised fish and wildlife habitats. Revenues generated through the use of public lands by sol
ar power
plants can support the fund.

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41
 
                                                           
                                                           
         
 
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30

Protermo Solar. (2011, February).
Mapa de la Industria Sol
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 |  Sponsored  by  ASME
                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
42
 
                                                           
                                                           
         
 
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WISE  2011
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43
 
                                                           
                                                           
         
 
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WISE  2011
 |  Sponsored  by  ASME
                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
44
 
                                                           
                                                           
         
 
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