Sahara sun to provide green energy to Europe?

While the thought of transmitting electricity from thousands of kilometres away may sound inefficient, scientists in the European Union are proposing just that as a way of ensuring the future energy needs of a growing population are met while reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity generation.

North Africa has an incredible amount of solar power potential on tap and vast solar panel farms, each generating around 50-200 megawatts of power, could be implemented in the country in order to supply Northern Europe with clean, green and renewable energy. The concepts is being proposed as part of a European “super grid” that would distribute electricity from a variety of green sources including  wind power from the UK and Denmark, plus geothermal energy from Iceland and Italy.

The potential in North Africa is so great,  photovoltaic panels in the country can generate up to triple the electricity compared to similar panels in northern Europe.

The potential for solar power isn’t just dependent upon how much sun a particular area gets, but the intensity of the sun’s rays – i.e.; solar radiation levels. Even within countries the level of solar radiation can differ dramatically. This measurement is usually referred to as “peak sun hours”. Within Australia, generally speaking, the further north you are, the more sun hours available. The levels range from 2.6 in Tasmania, up to around 6.8 towards the top end of Western Australia. You can get an idea of how many peak sun hours are available in your area with this solar power system builder calculator.

The cost of the North African solar farm project, to be rolled out over the next three decades if it goes ahead, is estimated to be 73.5 billion Australian dollars. This  is a drop in the bucket compared to a recent prediction by the International Energy Agency global investment of over 45 trillion Australian dollars in clean energy systems being needed over the next 30 years. Source: The Guardian