Plant installation Wind and solar power could make the Sahara greener. A survey investigated the effect of large wind and photovoltaic installations on precipitation and vegetation. The results revealed that these types of installations would increase rainfall and vegetation in the Sahara and the neighboring Sahelian region, making it a net positive potential for the region and for the planet.
A group of scientists led by researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois set out to model what would happen if solar and wind farms large enough to power the planet were installed in the Sahara Desert , and found that they could actually help more. than we think.
Was made a new modeling of the climatic effects of photovoltaic and wind power, taking into account how vegetation reacts to changes in temperature and precipitation.
The construction of large factories solar and wind power in the sands of the Sahara not only could this make the region a major producer of clean energy, but it could also have a big impact on precipitation, temperatures and local vegetation.
In the study by the group of researchers from Universities of Illinois and Maryland, the climatic effects of wind and photovoltaic installations are modeled taking into account the way in which the vegetation reacts to changes in temperature and precipitation.
“It is – says Yan Li, lead author of the study – the largest desert in the world, it is sparsely populated, extremely sensitive to change and is found in Africa, near Europe and the Middle East, where they have a great and growing energy need. “
It is a known fact that these types of large power plants have significant impacts on the territory. However, in the various models developed so far, a fundamental element such as the feedback on the vegetation was lacking, an element which can skew the results in case of absence.
In the research of Li and his colleagues a series of large wind and solar power plants were simulated over a total of more than 9 million square kilometers and an average power of 3 TW and 79 TW, respectively. The new model revealed that wind farms could increase rainfall in the region.
“Increased rainfall and vegetation, combined with clean electricity generation, could help agriculture, economic development and general social well-being in the Sahara, Sahel, Middle East and others neighboring regions.Study author Safa Motesharrei said in a University of Illinois press release released by ScienceDaily.
The study found that wind farms would increase precipitation because they would increase the temperature by attracting warm air at night and decrease the wind speed by creating more friction. This would lead to double rain in places where wind farms are installed.
Photovoltaic energy, on the other hand, reduces light reflection off the surface, triggering positive feedback that can lead to an increase in precipitation of around 50%.
Daniel Kirk-Davidoff said the effect would not be drastic – the desert would remain dry – but vegetation in the south of the region would increase, so there is a big difference for the people who live there, as it would increase the grazing possibilities. .