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Solar power from Africa could power all of Europe


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The image shows the the sun shining through the clouds on the Sahara desert in Morocco. Photo by: GETA.80.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this summer launched, with the support of EU, a new Mediterranean union with the aim to “tackle issues such as regional unrest, immigration to pollution.”

The new international body will include 16 non-EU states from around the Mediterranean and all 27 EU member states. The union will focus on dealing with energy, security, counter-terrorism, immigration and trade. The union will include 756 million people from Western Europe to the Jordanian desert.

Some say that the Union was launched mainly because Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to “exchange” nuclear power expertise with North African gas reserves. Nicolas Sarkozy on the other hand says the union is supposed “to ensure the region’s people could love each other instead of making war.”

But some people are more positive and hope the union is the first steps towards large scale solar plants in northern Africa with focus of generating green and renewable electricity to Europe.

Scientists from the EU are planning for a new supergrid between the different EU member states. This new supergrid will be built using new DC (HVDC) lines which are perfect for transmissions of energy over long distances. The supergrid could allow Denmark and the UK to export wind energy and Iceland to export geothermal energy at times when production exceeds demand to other EU member states.

But the supergrids main purpose would be to transmit renewable solar energy from the Saharan desert to Europe. The scientists want to build a series of huge solar farms in the Saharan desert and connect them to the supergrid.

Arnulf Jaeger-Walden of the European commission’s Institute for Energy says “it would require the capture of just 0.3% of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle East deserts to meet all of Europe’s energy needs.”

According to the scientists the sunlight in Sahara could “generate up to three times the electricity compared with similar panels in northern Europe” because the sunlight in this area is so intense.

The supergrid project has been met optimistically by both politicians, like Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown, and environment organisations, such as Greenpeace.

“Assuming it's cost-effective, a largescale renewable energy grid is just the kind of innovation we need if we're going to beat climate change,” said Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist.

Arnulf Jaeger-Walden believes that the solar energy from the Saharan desert would be cheap and “below what the average consumer is paying:”

“The biggest PV system at the moment is installed in Leipzig and the price of the installation is €3.25 per watt. If we could realise that in the Mediterranean, for example in southern Italy, this would correspond to electricity prices in the range of 15 cents per kWh, something below what the average consumer is paying.”

The project would take many years to complete and huge investments at a total cost of around €450 billion would be needed. But the scientists expect that by 2050 solar energy from the Saharan desert could produce 100 GW. That is more than all the energy sources in the UK combined could ever generate.

The project would also help Europe to meet its own climate change commitments to generate 20% of all the energy from renewable energy sources, decrease energy consumption by 20% and reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.

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But the supergrids main purpose would be to transmit renewable solar energy from the Saharan desert to Europe. The scientists want to build a series of huge solar farms in the Saharan desert and connect them to the supergrid.

Sounds like a plan that could work but you know that there will be some econut that will object to it because they did not think of it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok, stupid question: in their plans to use Saharan sunlight to power Europe, are they also planning to, you know, provide for Africa's energy infrastructure? They kinda keep getting screwed on that score.

Yes, we should hope that. Either way they will get something in return...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, we should hope that. Either way they will get something in return...

The best way to know for sure is to watch the sale of land in the target regions. If the western countries or investors from western countries start to buy up the land, you can be sure that they don't plan on sharing the energy or benefits with the locals. I'll believe their intentions to help the African countries only if they set up solar energy generation for those countries first.

Forgive me for being skeptical but unfortunately, history shows that greed overcomes intentions more times than not... why would you give away what others are already paying for?

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  • 1 month later...

Africa is in huge financial crisis and as long as projects like this are done on a sustainable level, I think the state of third world debt might be rectified. Although it is sad that countries like Africa have a history of being taken advantage of - lets hope this doesn't happen again!

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Sadly, a lot of their current problems are of their own making so we have to hope that they can correct some of the internal strife and take advantage of this...

I don't agree with you that Africa's financial situation is all due to their own mistakes - yes there is corruption and there are governments who are doing heinous things but third world debt is bigger than a few bad money decisions...

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I don't agree with you that Africa's financial situation is all due to their own mistakes - yes there is corruption and there are governments who are doing heinous things but third world debt is bigger than a few bad money decisions...

I never said that the "financial situation is all due to their own mistakes". Some of the problems ARE due to internal conflict that cannot be resolved by blaming other governments.... taking the attitude that everything is "some one else's fault" will never resolve all the problems.

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In the past, only if you consider England "Western imperialism", but now, people have responsibility for their own actions...... :info:

Well, England (Europe) went to Africa to get slaves to sell to the American market in return for cotton etc. Thats the simple and basic explanation. But under early and late imperialism many things occoured that still have effects to this day.

Im actually writing a post for Green Blog about all this. Stay Tuned! :cute:

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Well, England (Europe) went to Africa to get slaves to sell to the American market in return for cotton etc. Thats the simple and basic explanation. But under early and late imperialism many things occoured that still have effects to this day.

Im actually writing a post for Green Blog about all this. Stay Tuned! :cute:

many things occoured that still have effects to this day
agree with you on that point but not everything that is going on today can be blamed on that...
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