Solar Power From Sahara

Europe Will Be Powered By Saharan Sun in Five Years

The super-sized solar projects being built in the Sahara desert will start generating and providing Europe with clean energy within the next five years, according to the European energy commissioner.  This is much sooner, than the initial 10-year time frame given to the project.

Reuters Africa

EU sees solar power imported from Sahara in 5 yrs

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Europe will import its first solar-generated electricity from North Africa within the next five years, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in an interview on Sunday.

The European Union is backing projects to turn the plentiful sunlight in the Sahara desert into electricity for power-hungry Europe, a scheme it hopes will help meet its target of deriving 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 2020.

"I think some models starting in the next 5 years will bring some hundreds of megawatts to the European market," Oettinger told Reuters after a meeting with energy ministers from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

The Concept at a glance

"In the coming decades, global developments will confront mankind with unprecedented challenges: climate change, a population growth far beyond Earth‘s present carrying capacity, the global striving for prosperity, and increasing demands for energy and water, are the core problems we are faced with. 200 years of global industrialization has resulted in an unparalleled standard of living and an increased life expectancy for part of the world’s population. However, all this has been and is still being achieved at a price: alarming environmental destruction as well as climate change which can no longer be ignored. These things will mean dramatic changes to life on Earth in the future."

Desertec solar energy project

Generating Electricity in the Sahara Desert

There are two main types of solar generation planned for North Africa. The first is standard photovoltaic solar panels (PV). Thanks to the number of sunshine hours, the clean dry air, and the latitude of the Sahara Desert, a solar panel installed there will generate up to 3x as much power than it would if it was installed in the UK.
The second (and more likely) is to use concentrated solar power (CSP) - an array of mirrors which focus the sun's rays onto a single point to make super-heated steam to turn a turbine (pictured above). See our article First European Solar Power Tower for information on how this technology is already being used in Southern Spain.

European Supergrid - HVDC Transmission

If renewable energy is to be used to power Europe, then a new low-loss electricity grid will need to be constructed. The UK national grid for example transmits high voltage ACwind energy from UK is to be used in Bulgaria, or if Saharan solar electricity is to be used in UK, more efficient transmission would be essential.
The plan is to create a Europe-wide supergrid of low loss high voltage DC (direct current) cables. HVDC cables have energy losses as low as 3% per 1000km, and their use will make it easier for countries which generate AC electricity at different frequencies to synchronise and pool green electricity. Current estimates put the cost of such a supergrid at around 45 Billion Euro.

Europe Will Be Powered By Saharan Sun in Five Years
EU sees solar power imported from Sahara in 5 yrs | Top News | Reuters
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Solar Power for Europe from Sahara - Solar

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Solar Energy From Sahara Will Be Imported To Europe In 5 Years | TheBlogIsMine Dot Com
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Europe to import Sahara's solar power