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Sahara desert as a solar farm.

Instead of looking at the Sahara desert as a vast unusable wasteland, look at it as good as gold!

Think... If 0.3% of this desert were covered in solar panels, we would have enough energy to power Europe!

Now take that scale to 1%. We could power the U.S and Europe without the use of Nuclear, Coal, and other non renewable "harmful" substances.

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    Oct 25 2012: I think before that happens we need to increase the efficience of solar panels way ..way above the 36% mark
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      Oct 25 2012: Ahm, just to keep working on efficiancy levels we are already used to and neglecting the renewable aspect completely?

      31% coal-fired power plants (world average)
      33% nuclear power plant (world average)

      In this case, lower efficiency is just a matter of additional space, which, in desert regions, does no seem a major problem to me...
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        Oct 25 2012: I agree but if we can increase the efficiency before we take on such I big project, wouldn't we be in my opinion a waste of resources to implement now, which isn't that what we are trying to prevent . So why not wait till we get above the 50% mark so that way were just not replacing the materials in 5 years instead in 5 years we could be at or above the 50% mark
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          Oct 25 2012: Because time is ticking against us! A project of this scale will not be realised within a few years and there is no need to have all of this panels coming out of just one generation. On the contrary, as technology improves, so would the panels used in such a power-plant and they could be easily integrated as they hit the market.

          Considering a 'waste of resources' in this comparison does not hold up, as the given energy production is a waste of resources already.

          Silicon is no scarce resource on this planet and it would not be effected using some of it to get our energy renewable and finally green.
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        Oct 25 2012: Unless you are talking about the mayan prophecy or dooms day. I think we are on pretty good trajectory. The worlds energy crisis exist but even if we don't get of oil in the next 50 to 100 years I think as a society we will still survive specially if we keep adding newer and better forms of alternative energy
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          Oct 25 2012: Tracectory leading us were? To me it is no matter of survival, as a species we will, yet if we do not initiate the right change, the right transitions, now, the system we know it will collapse to the expense, health and lifes of the young generations, living today.

          Just as a simple fact: Our whole world food supply is based on fossile fuel, beginning at seeding, fertilization, harvesting, transportation, storage, cooling and preparation. And even the fertilizer itself is based on fossile fuel, exclusively in large scale production.

          Just to transform this system within a timeframe of 75 years - and personally I don't think we have that much time (oil) left - we need to start NOW, to hopefully get it done just in time, not even counting the rise in worlds population today and in the near future.

          Honestly I do not see any trajectory but lip-service anywere!

          Why? Well, that is easy, because there is no quick profit to gain here, no boost in shareholder value and no short turn return in investment for the given system!

          Nuclear and coal-fired power plants are no alternative, so what is substantially there, in the scale of change we need, for its replacement? I don't see a single approach, nowhere, serious and powerful enough to really make this change happen.

          There is no need for the ending of the mayan calendar nor an apocalyptic world-end scenario of a religion to start, better keep blowing the whistle...
        • Oct 25 2012: I agree with Lejan, I hardly think we have a timescale of 50 years worth of oil. Even if the price keeps going up and making petrol based product more and more "valuable", the need for petrol grows much faster. Societies all over the planet are growing and their needs for petrol are growing too.


          I think we should realize that alternative sources are not an alternative anymore. If we hope to ever grow as a species, we need to invest in Solar, Wind and Hydro energy. (Some forms of hydroelectricity requires flooding large ecosystem and may be harmful to the local environment, but it's still has the best ratio for production/pollution, to my knowledge.)

          I hope someone will look at the Sahara as an energy sources, I really do. There's a lot of potential for "solar scientist" (I don't know if that's how they call themselves, but it does sound cool, so I'm guessing they don't mind) Maybe an internationally funded research team could be implanted there, with the objective of perfecting and optimizing solar energy with every technology available on the planet.

          Now, I'm not sure about the feasibility of covering 1% of the Sahara RIGHT NOW. Solar energy is just beginning, I think before wasting valuable materials on low quality solar panels, we should really focus on optimizing them... thus the research facility.

          Am I the only one thinking someone from some space program should already be there with solar panels, testing some stuff for future missions or something?

          By the way, I greatly salute the question and it's author. This world really needs new ideas, and harvesting the sun from the Sahara is a good one I think. I believe the technology that is currently killing our home is going to be it's savior... if we can just change gear and get to work.
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        Oct 25 2012: Yeah and I am bias because here in america where putting up new wind turbines it seems almost every day, local schools and government building with led light and solar. So really I can only talk about the USA. However recently I say that some over seas country installed the largest land based wind turbine to date. To test for deployment out in the ocean. But once again I can only see it from the US perspective.

        however you are right but oil will be used and produced for quite some time in the future
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          Oct 25 2012: Wind turbines, led lights and solar is good to install, no doubt, but it does not match the scale we need to change in the near future and it does not have the momentum, the acceleration needed to tackle the challenge.

          Statistically you (USA) consume twice as much energy per year than I do (Europe) and both of us consume way to much as it was good for our planet.

          As I lived in the US for a while I didn't experienced any change in living standard, so the difference in consumption must be caused somewhere else.

          In my view, one cause is hidden within the suburbanisation in the US. You have a lot of land and you used it. Resulting - in terms of energy efficiency - in a wide spread distribution of homes and the need to use a car to go (drive) 'shopping'.

          I used to live in Newark, Delaware, nothing more than a large University campus surrounded and interwoven by a small town, happen to carry that name. But even though it was small for US standard, before I had my own car, it was very difficult to me to get my shopping done. Little to no sidewalks along the streets, a view small grocery stores downtown, yet the supermarket way off the town center and almost only accessible by car.

          Changing those structures towards a more compact and 'walkable' infrastructure will become mandatory in the near future unless we find a source of renewable energy for our transportation. So far, again, even there is nothing in sight for a complete substitution, and a view Teslar's won't have any impact on that change to come...

          Oil will be used for quite some time in the future, but because of the increase in price - and this is the law of the market, no doomsday fantasy - less and less people will be able to afford it. And this will happen to our food too! At first it may doesn't even bother anyone if fancy fruits from oversees get more expensive one day, and turn even luxury some days later, but bread, potatoes and before all meat will follow, and at this point change may be to late ..
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          Oct 25 2012: If you are interested, this short BBC documentary made me think as I do now:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3sxMByA1R0&feature=related
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        Oct 25 2012: yeah I will check it out

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