Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2011

Global Prospects for Utility-Scale Solar Power: Toward Spatially Explicit Modeling of Renewable Energy Systems

Kevin Ummel

December 2010

Center for Global Development


In this paper, Kevin Ummel provides high-resolution estimates of the global potential and cost of solar power technologies while identifying deployment patterns that minimize the cost of greenhouse gas abatement. His findings are based on a global simulation of providing 2,000 TWh of solar power (about 7 percent of total consumption) in 2030, taking into account least-cost siting of facilities and transmission lines and the effect of diurnal variation on profitability and required subsidies. The American southwest, the Tibetan Plateau, the Sahel, and the Middle East are identified as major supply areas.