The Atacama Solar Platform: Opportunities and Strategic Dilemmas for Building a “World-Class” Solar Cluster in Chile

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Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master Thesis
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2010
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Alatrista, Arturo
Sloan, Tristan
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The disastrous effects of climate change have progressively gained interest since the 1992 Earth Summit and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Since emissions from fossil fuel based power plants are a major contributor to anthropogenic green house gas emissions, an important means of mitigation is by replacing traditional power generation with new renewable alternatives. In fact, there are claims that there is a need to completely de-carbonize all global electricity generation by 2050 to prevent increased global temperatures that would have disastrous effects. This will demand a transformation on a scale that has no precedents, and will require the participation of all nations. Solar energy has potential to be a very versatile source of energy as solar technologies present many exciting opportunities. Due to past energy crises and protests against nuclear, as well as the more recent pressures of climate change, national energy security and scarcities, solar energy technologies have emerged and gained social legitimacy. Despite their high comparative costs and current low contribution to the worlds electricity generation (< 0.1%), trends show substantial growth, and corresponding projections suggest that solar energy could provide as much as 25% of the global electricity production by 2050. Cost reductions will undoubtedly be critical for this diffusion. Fundación Chile, a non-profit organization that fosters the creation of businesses and national economic growth in Chile by introducing innovations and developing human capital in key sectors, has recognized that the cost of solar energy technologies will soon become competitive and opportunities will emerge. As a result they, in partnership with other actors, have created the Atacama Solar Platform initiative, which aims to create a world-class solar cluster in the Atacama Desert. However, as Chile is a small emerging country and has a resource-based economy, this will be an enormous challenge.
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Miljöteknik, Environmental engineering
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