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Engineering grand challenges

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On 12-13 March the IET hosts a major international summit in London organised by the national engineering academies of the UK, US and China to discuss progress on 14 'grand challenges' identified five years ago by America's National Academy of Engineering. In the following pages we look at what they are, and how close the world is to solving them. If we are to move away from fossil-fuel-driven energy solutions then the burden will need to be taken up by renewable energy sources, and the most bountiful among these is, of course, the power of the sun. Over the period 2000-11, solar PV was the fastest growing renewable power technology worldwide. Cumulative installed capacity of solar PV reached roughly 65GW at the end of 2011, up from only 1.5GW in 2000. Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a re-emerging market. Roughly 350M W of commercial plants were built in California in the 1980s; activity started again in 2006 in the United States and Spain. At present, these two countries are the only ones with significant CSP capacity, with about 1GW and 500MW installed respectively, and more under construction or development.

Published in:

Engineering & Technology  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 2 )