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In the Sahara desert, with less cloud cover and a better solar angle, one can obtain closer to 83 W/m². The unpopulated area of the Sahara desert is over 9 million km², which if covered with solar panels would provide 750 terawatts total. The Earth's current energy comsumption is around 13.5 TW at any given moment (including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric power).
I am just wondering how long it would take before we get some dividend in the way of free energy after the time and energy and resources that it will cost to set the thing up in the first place .There will have to be a vast infrastructure created to distribute the energy too...
Lets start an organization dedicated to covering the Sahara with solar panels!!!!!!!!
That is a good question.. Haow would they keep the panels free from sand etc.. Seems like and impossible job... Would the units have to be sealed within some lkind of case so that pitting from the sand would not occur or would that have no effect on the solor panel?
Quote from: Karen W. on 03/02/2007 04:04:50That is a good question.. Haow would they keep the panels free from sand etc.. Seems like and impossible job... Would the units have to be sealed within some lkind of case so that pitting from the sand would not occur or would that have no effect on the solor panel?Interesting question, but solvable in my opinion.You would not just create electricity but also use these plants (preferably concentrated solar power plants) also to desalinate water.The water can be used to grow plants.You would just need to take an area and protect it with dunes,and irriate the dunes to grow plants on them , so the sand won't be blown away.But realistically seen such plants won't be built in the middle of the Sahara, but somewhere near the coast.
They can be sealed, but i forget how. Although this is not realy a problem, if you assume that to save energy and cost the units are made on site using local labour andmaterials it would be just as cheap to manufacture and replace the units when that is needed.
Sealing them will not be a problem, but the problem is, whether they are seeled or not, if they get covered in sand, then it will stop the sunlight getting to them.Nor can they simply be made on site. Making solar panels is like making any other silicon based electronic device, it needs ridiculously pure silicon made in ultra clean rooms.
If you just PAINTED the Sahara (etc) silver / white, you would significantly reduce the amount of received solar energy and reduce the problem of global warming. That's about as low tech as you can get and it might counteract the effect of the depletion of the nice white, reflecting polar ice caps.
consider the cost of getting the power to where it is needed.