Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
11 February 2008

Thanks to a BBC programme, Costing the Earth, I just heard about Desertec, a proposal to provide 10-25% of Europe’s electricity via solar power panels in the deserts of North Africa. What I thought was particularly impressive is the claim that the solar panels could provide a three-fold benefit for these African nations. They’d sell the power, of course, but they would also get desalinated water (because this is needed to run the power plants) and they could grow crops in the shade of the giant mirrors! I always thought that the problem with remote electricity generation like this would be the losses in transmission over long distances but the people behind this concept claim that by using High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) these losses would only amount to 10-15% of the power generated.

I have no idea whether this would be feasible, technically, politically or economically, (one critic says it would cost 0.15-0.20 euros per KWh – about double what we pay for power currently) but it sure sounds appealing on the face of it.

1 Comment »

  1. It certainly is feasible, and CSP sites are currently being built both here in Southern Europe, in Southwest USA and also in North Africa. The Middle East is looking to embrace it also, with the recently announced $15 billion Masdar eco-city project in Abu Dhabi to have a 100MW CSP plant built.

    I visited PS10, a CSP site outside Seville, in early November last year – it was remarkable, and what I saw was just the beginning. If you are interested, you can read more about it here:http://thelazyenvironmentalist.blogspot.com/2007/11/csp-basks-in-glow-of-sunny-future.html

    And if you support CSP, why not join TREC-UK? We are a group of volunteers trying to raise awareness of this great big solution. http://www.trec-uk.org.uk

    Comment by The Lazy Environmentalist — 11 February 2008 @ 7:50 pm

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