Concentrating solar power (CSP) is a commercially available renewable energy technology capable of harnessing the immense solar resource in Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (the MENA region), and elsewhere. This paper summarises the findings of a study by the European Academies Science Advisory Council which has examined the current status and development challenges of CSP, and consequently has evaluated the potential contribution of CSP in Europe and the MENA region to 2050. It identifies the actions that will be required by scientists, engineers, policy makers, politicians, business and investors alike, to enable this vast solar resource to make a major contribution to establishing a sustainable energy system. The study concludes that cost reductions of 50-60% in CSP electricity may reasonably be expected in the next 10-15 years, enabling the technology to be cost competitive with fossil-fired power generation at some point between 2020 and 2030. Incorporation of storage delivers added value in enabling CSP to deliver dispatchable power. Incentive schemes will be needed in Europe and MENA countries to enable this point to be achieved. Such schemes should reflect the true value of electricity to the grid, effectively drive R&D, and ensure transparency of performance and cost data.