Feeds

Big EU imports of Sahara sun-power coming soon?

Headlines to which the answer is no

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

"This is a good question but not a question to destroy our project," Oettinger said. "This question must be answered by a good answer and so we need ways to ensure that our import of electricity is from renewables."

Perhaps indicating the scale of the difficulties the Desertec project faces, Oettinger reportedly considers that technological monitoring would be required to enforce green compliance by North African electricity suppliers. ®

*Bootnote

A sunbeam falling vertically onto the Earth carries one kilowatt of power per square metre. At equinox midday on the Equator itself this actually happens, but half the time it is night and for almost all of the day the sun is rising or setting rather than straight overhead. Then, there are clouds sometimes even in the Sahara.

Thus a square metre of ground in North Africa receives about 0.25 kilowatts of sunlight on average. "Concentrating solar panels" are projected by their inventors to offer energy efficiencies of 6.8 per cent, so they would yield 148 kilowatt-hours per square metre of panel annually. Over a large area a substantial proportion of the surface would actually be required for access, so the yield would be 74 kWh per year per square metre at best.

The Sahara desert has an area of 9.1 x 1012 square metres, so covering it all in such panel farms would yield around 673 petawatt-hours each year.

Current global energy demand is in the range of 140 PWh annually and thus would require at least a fifth of the Sahara (before we even consider the issues of a global interconnector grid, Saharan night time etc).

One also notes that if all the world's present population used energy at the same rate as Americans do today (or if the population doubled and used merely European amounts of juice) this would rise to most or all of the Sahara - which means around 6 per cent of the entire land area of the planet covered in extremely expensive equipment. This would be a very wealthy future human race indeed.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.