Solar power from Sahara to Europe within 5 years

If just one percent of the Saharan Desert were covered in concentrating solar panels it would create enough energy to power the entire world. That’s a powerful number, and the European Union has decided to jump on their proximity to the Sahara in order to reap some benefits from the untapped solar energy beaming down on Northern Africa.

This could be huge both for Europe, getting a huge supply of renewable energy (and thus needing to import less petroleum), as well as for Africa, who get will energy for themselves as well as a major new source of revenue.

This is part of the massive Desertec plan, backed by major corporations, in which Europe will transition to renewable energy by 2050.

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  1. There has been talk about doing similar things in the US southwest (and maybe parts of Mexico?) but it has not gotten off the ground for various reasons. I think most of it has to do with the power companies not getting enough profits or sweetheart deals (tax breaks/credits, exemptions) out of the deals compared to conventional power generation. However, I have also read of some environmental activists who are opposed to “centralized” solar power schemes. I wonder if we could ever get anything so ambitious here in the U.S.? Just looking at those pictures of the BP spill remind me almost everyday how we need to develop alternative energy.

    • Exactly. And Desertec is backed by huge corporations with implicit support from governments. They’re upfront about one major reason, they don’t want to be dependent on pipelines coming through Russia, Ukraine, or anyplace else. They want to be as energy-independent as possible.

      Meanwhile, in the US, the battle for offshore wind has being going for over a decade off Nantucket. We still don’t have any offshore anywhere.

      It’s ridiculous. Why do we squabble so much?

  2. I think it would be great if the US were to get on board with a program like this. By putting a solar farm, so to speak, in Africa it has mulitple benefits. Africa has long been dependent on natural resources that don’t make them much money. However, if they were able to harness massive amounts of solar energy and be a major contributor to the world’s energy resources, this might spur forward some much needed growth in the poorest region of the world.

    Additionally, I agree that in light of BPs oil spill, it is more evident than ever that we need to seek alternative energy sources. I think it will depend on a combination of efforts from individuals, companies and governments to make this shift to solar energy a reality.

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