Arid, semi-desert areas of the world, where there has been the most development of utility grade thermal solar electric power, include Spain, Israel and the Southwestern United States. Other promising areas include Australia, Greece, Egypt, Mexico, India, Morocco, Iran, Italy and Algeria. And, if you buy me a nice lunch, I may even let AG readers infer that, as a solar thermal market, Upstate New York is the North American sweet spot for commercial-scale solar thermal installations.
Rest easy, Sun Edison, it is the considered opinion of Toronto Star reporter Tyler “When You’re Hot” Hamilton that, the United States is doing a respectable job of promoting and financially supporting early stage adoption of solar thermal technologies. In an interview, Alex Winch, founder and president of Mondial Energy in Toronto, shares with Hamilton his impression that North America is the sweet spot for commercial-scale solar thermal installations. (Besides the American Southwest, another sweet spot is semi-arid land in Southern Europe, specifically in Spain and Portugal.)
On the other hand, to throw a bit of Lake Ontario cold water on the pitch, a 2005 policy analysis from Greenpeace failed to designate either Canada or Siberia as one of the five most promising regions in the world for development of large scale, thermal solar projects. Conversely, it indicated that such application is inappropriate for those regions.
In promoting cool, green Canadian companies, Tyler just might be stretching his credibility a bit too far. But, in all fairness, we eco-warriors do like to see photographs of toasty, solar-heated, housing in the middle of cruel winter, accomplished with a combination of passive solar, low-cost solar thermal, black paint and duct tape. With considerable engineering, it even could be justifiable and certainly has appeal since it demonstrates homeowner cleverness.