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ENVIRONMENTTECHNOLOGYSAHARA DESERT: Solar Farm of the Future?

Maureen SantosMay 20, 20192878 min

Will the Sahara desert become the solar farm for the generations to come?

As the planet continues to head towards a catastrophic climate change, people are finding more and more ways to steer Earth away from the brink of failure and destruction. Countries have resorted to recycling plastics, planting trees, investing in renewable energy, and designating sanctuaries for wildlife to save them from extinction.

Climate change has a drastic impact on all living things on Earth. From the tiniest plankton to the largest animal on land and sea, nothing will escape its punishment. Humans will also have a hard time dealing with various calamities such as dry spells.

Renewable energy to combat climate change

Most governments and private sectors have focused their efforts on renewable energy. In Ilocos, Philippines, several wind farms have been constructed to generate electricity. The United Kingdom has the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the Walney Extension. It has the capacity to deliver wind-generated renewable electricity to over one million UK homes. The primary turbine has already been installed and is generating electricity.

The Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm is a tactical collaboration between Global Infrastructure Partners and Ørsted. Ørsted is considered the planet’s most environment-friendly company. The offshore construction began over a year ago and expected to be completed by Q1 2020.

Solar energy is the most rapidly growing source of energy around the world and seems to be the best choice for electricity generation. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy has been responsible for two-thirds of new power and adds to the world’s grids in 2016. For them, solar energy shines the brightest.

Sahara Desert solar farm

Sahara has been eyed as the next spot for a solar farm. It is the world’s biggest desert masked by sand, sand dunes, and rocks. The Saharan sun is capable enough to supply the planet with substantial solar energy.

If Sahara were a country, it will be the world’s fifth largest in size. It is bigger than Brazil but a bit smaller than the US and China. Based on NASA’s estimates, on average, every square meter gets between 2,000 and 3,000-kilowatt hours of solar energy each year. If each inch of the desert absorbs every drop of the sun’s power, there will be over 22 billion gigawatt hours (GWh) every year.

The proposed solar farm that will blanket the whole desert will generate 2,000 times more energy. It can even produce more power than the biggest power stations around the world. These power stations could hardly generate 100,000 GWh of energy each year. The Sahara desert could possibly create more than 7,000 times the needed electricity in Europe.  

Two technologies for Sahara solar farm

Currently, there are two feasible technologies to produce solar electricity. First is the concentrated solar power (CSP) that utilizes mirrors or lenses to fixate the sun’s energy in a specific place. The heat will generate electricity via steam turbines.

This popular Moroccan desert is a perfect place to establish a solar farm for several reasons. The place is always cloudless, absorbs direct sunlight, and has high temperatures for great efficiency. The downside is, the mirrors can be covered by sand storms. The most problematic issue is the scarcity of water resources.

The second is the use of regular photovoltaic solar panels. These panels convert the sun’s energy directly into electricity with the use of semiconductors. Generally, it is the kind of solar power which can be either linked to the grid or deployed for small-scale use. Moreover, it gives a sensible yield of energy in cloudy weather.

Majority of the researchers suggest the integration of both main technologies for developing a hybrid system. An absolute small part of the Sahara Desert could generate as much energy as much as the whole African continent. This incredible desert might be inhospitable for most flora and fauna, but it could be the key to sustainable energy for North Africa.

 

Maureen Santos

She lets everyone become aware of what is happening to our beloved planet Earth and its inhabitants. She can take you beyond the space and find out how neighbor planets are doing. Moreover, she would open your eyes to the things what makes the Earth suffer including the living species and allow you to decide what you can do to help save the planet and the future generation.

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