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Monday, August 4, 2008

Sahara’s Sun Power Getting Tapped for European Use

The EU is planning a new supergrid initiative that would harness the massive amount of sun pounding down on the Sahara dessert. The $71 billion plan would take a mere couple of decades to complete, but would supply a significant amount (some report ALL) of the EU’s energy needs. UK’s PM Gordon Brown already supports the idea, which is no surprise considering the new green face he is putting forward, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is onboard as well.

The project would have a number of farms each generating between 50 and 200 MW through PV or solar thermal concentration, which would travel the thousands of miles back to the EU through high voltage DC transmission lines. All the countries of the EU would share the solar power, along with wind and geothermal power supplied by other EU countries – or if the project does indeed supply all the electricity needed via solar, the wind and geothermal power would be exported. Solar farms in the Sahara would generate up to three times as much electricity as similar sized farms in Europe, says Arnulf Jaeger-Walden of the European Commission Institute for Energy – which is supposed to explain the smack this project has of shanghai-ing another continent’s land space.

While it seems to be getting some political backing already, I have a hard time imagining it moving forward very quickly, if at all, even though the Sahara does seem like an ideal spot for solar power generation. Considering the advances made in solar thermal concentration, and what little would be needed of the vastness of the Sahara, it is an idea to float.

See the article here

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