|Case for Solar Energy Investments (World Bank, 1996)|
Several recent publications in the world Bank technical papers, energy series, have reviewed in detail the status and costs of renewable energy technologies and reported on their progress and prospects for use in developing countries. The present paper summarizes the status of four of the technologies - photovolatics, solar-thermal, wind, and biomass - and argues that the case for further encouraging their development and use is a good one, for several reasons: first, the abundance of the solar resource; second, the progress in costs and operational performance; third, the economic prospects; and fourth, the need to preserve the environment.
Based on the status and prospects of the technologies and on economic and environmental criteria, the paper proposes a concerted international initiative to accelerate the commercialization of solar technologies. The proposal was developed by Dennis Anderson and Kulsum Ahmed of the Industry and Energy Department. The material was first prepared as a presentation to a donors' roundtable organized in connection with the April 1994 ESMAP donors' meeting. The paper presented here also incorporates comments from an international group of scientists and economists working in the fields of energy and development who gathered to discuss it at a "brainstorming session" held at Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Science in September 1994, under the chairmanship of Professor Robert Socolow.
The proposal is intended to encourage further discussion. It reflects the recent thinking of World Bank staff on the subject and signals the Bank Group's willingness to work with its member countries to see an abundant and environmenally attractive resource more widely harnessed.
Industry and Energy Department