1.2% of the Sahara Desert can meet global energy needs through solar energy. The need for liquid fuel could be met with hydrogen.
In 2015, the world’s total energy demand was 17.3 TW of continuous power during the year. It is enough to cover an area of 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels to cover a demand of more than 17.4 TW of electricity.
1.2% of the Sahara Desert can meet global energy needs through solar energy. Endless extensions of land with perfect conditions to produce solar energy on a large scale. In fact, the biggest projects in the world are developed in the region.
The needs of liquid fuels can be supplied by hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water, produced by solar energy. It can be transported in tankers, via pipes or batteries.
It is the proposal of the professor of Berkeley, Mehran Moalem.
Nuclear power vs solar power.
There are other alternatives to generate 17.3 TW of energy. One of them is nuclear power. However, it has great drawbacks and problems compared to solar power.
For every watt of electricity produced by a nuclear reactor, 2 watts are wasted. The hot water produced by reactors is destructive to oceans and rivers.
The production of solar panels is not 100% environmentally friendly either. It requires the use of hazardous chemicals and generates waste that must be recycled. For example, silicon tetrachloride is a by-product he needs special treatment.
The manufacture of thin film solar panels is under development. This new proposal uses less energy and materials.
Despite its drawbacks, it is still easier to manage the waste generated by solar energy compared to nuclear energy.
Another aspect to take into account is the relationship with suppliers. China is the main manufacturer and its participation is essential in reducing the cost of a project of this magnitude in order to make the proposal viable.
Improvements to the desert ecosystem.
Factory installation would prevent the current erosion of the desert. The shade of the panels reduces sandstorms that pollute the air and occur precisely due to erosive processes. Solar and wind power could help make the Sahara greener.