Sahara desert project aims to power half the world by 2050.
A joint project by universities in Algeria and Japan is planning to turn the Sahara desert, the largest desert in the world, into a breeding ground for solar power plants that could supply half the world’s electrical energy requirements by 2050.
The Sahara Solar Breeder Project aims to begin by building a silicon manufacturing plant in the desert to transform silica in the sand into silicon of sufficiently high quality for use in solar panels. Solar power plants will be constructed using the solar panels, and some of the electricity generated will supply the energy needed to build more silicon plants to produce more solar panels, to produce more electricity…
Leader of the Japanese team, Hideomi Koinuma from the University of Tokyo, said while no one has tried to use desert sand as a source of high-quality silicon before, it is the obvious choice and will be of high enough quality.
The energy generated by the solar power plants will be distributed as direct current via high-temperature superconductors, a process that Koinuma said will be more efficient than using alternating current. He envisages a large network of supercooled high-voltage direct current grids capable of transporting the expected 100 GW of electricity at least 500 kilometers. Even if the grid needs to be cooled with liquid nitrogen, Koinuma said it could still be cost-competitive. (High-temperature superconductors operate at about -240°C.)
The Sahara Solar Breeder Project (dubbed the Super Apollo Project by Koinuma) is being developed as part of the International Research Project on Global Issues by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Finally, scientists are tapping into the Sahara Desert for sustainable energy. Solar energy harvested from deserts will be able to power up communities for half of the costs.
Solar energy projects in the Death Valley are also taking off too. The future is looking greener.