As outlined in Chapter 2, considerable effort has gone into the development of solar thermal electricity generating systems. These are only feasible in large scale developments and as a result the present solar thermal installations are larger than the PV based ones. Figure 8.7 shows the 150 MW parabolic trough plant at Kramer Junction, California. It has been calculated that if an area of hot desert of about 250 x 250 km - less than 1% of the total areas of the world's deserts - were to be covered by such thermal plant enough energy would be produced to cover all present electricity needs. Manufacturers of such
systems are upbeat about the future but only time will tell whether their enthusiasm is justified.
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Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.