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Saharan solar panels could power Europe

By Moushumi Chakrabarty     Mar 11, 2009 in Environment
Europe’s electricity needs could be met by solar panels in the Sahara desert, according to a scientist at a major climate change conference in Copenhagen. Thus North Africa could become the main exporter of electricity to Europe.
Dr Anthony Patt, scientist at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), in Austria, told the conference that windfarms along the coastline and the presence of the reliable sun in North Africa made the best possible combination. This initiative would mean that Europe could meet its 2012 goal of getting 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
A Times Online report quotes him: “There is starting to be a growing number of cost estimates of both wind and concentrated solar power for North Africa....that start to compare favourably with alternative technologies. The cost of moving [electricity] long distances has really come down.”
The International Scinetific Congress for Climate Change is being held at the University of Copenhagen. This congress is taking place as a run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in November-December this year.
Installing solar panels in a small part of the Sahara desert would be enough to power the whole of Europe. Dr Patt suggested that a 50 billion pound investment by governments over the next decade would make this a viable project. However, there are considerable political issues that have to be sorted out first, he said. Security issues would be paramount in the consideration of this type of project. Human capital, supply chain, finance and other bottlenecks have to be resolved before the project becomes a reality.
A collaborative project between the European Climate Forum, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and the IIASA is underway to gain insights into the whole process. Their report is due mid-year.
More about Electricity, Climate change, Desert, Solar power, Wind farms
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