Could the desert sun power the world? | Environment | The Guardian

12 Dec

In 1986… [Gerhard Knies, a German particle physicist] scribbled down some figures and arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humans consume in a year. If even a tiny fraction of this energy could be harnessed – an area of Saharan desert the size of Wales could, in theory, power the whole of Europe – Knies believed we could move beyond dirty and dangerous fuels for ever….

Last month, at its annual conference in Cairo, Dii [Desertec Industrial Initiative] confirmed to the world that the first phase of the Desertec plan is set to begin in Morocco next year with the construction of a 500MW solar farm near to the desert city of Ouarzazate. The 12sq km project would act as a “reference project” that, much like Egypt’s own project at Kuraymat, would help convince both investors and politicians that similar farms could be repeated across the Mena region in the coming years and decades.

“It’s all systems go in Morocco,” announced Paul van Son, Dii’s CEO, to the visiting delegates. Talks, he added, were – given their shared close proximity, along with Morocco, to western Europe’s grid – already under way with Tunisia and Algeria about joining the “first phase” of Desertec. Countries such as Egypt, Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia would be expected to join in the “scale-up” phase from 2020 onwards, once extra transmission cables were laid across the Mediterranean and via Turkey, with the whole venture becoming financially self-sustaining by 2035.

via Could the desert sun power the world? | Environment | The Guardian.

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