Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 06:11:02 AM EST
Bob asked me to make a couple of comments in the open thread into a diary, so here are some quotes and pix from these web pages to get the ball rolling...
Solar power systems installed in the areas defined by the dark disks could provide a little more than the world's current total primary energy demand (assuming a conversion efficiency of 8 %). That is, all energy currently consumed, including heat, electricity, fossil fuels, etc., would be produced in the form of electricity by solar cells.
From the diaries (with format change) ~ whataboutbob & Jérôme
The colors in the map show the local solar irradiance averaged over three years from 1991 to 1993 (24 hours a day) taking into account the cloud coverage available from weather satellites.
Solar irradiance data
The spatially resolved solar irradiance is calculated with an algorithm developed by Bishop and Rossow  based on data made available through the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP)  which provides calibrated data collected by geostationary weather satellites around the world. The solar irradiance shown is a three year average from 1991 to 1993 and provides the total irradiance in a grid of 2.5° spacing in lattitude and longitude.
All data points are plotted in orthogonal lattitude and longitude coordinates. In consequence, distances, areas, and angles are increasingly distorted towards the poles. The coastline overlay was obatined from the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) .
Photovoltaic systems installed in the areas indicated by the dark disks on the map would produce an average electric output of 18 TWe, i.e. 3 TWe each when assuming a conversion efficiency from incident sunlight to electricity of 8 %. This corresponds to an energy output of 13,567 Mtoe per year (world total primary energy supply (TPES) in 2003: 10,579 Mtoe ). The following table lists the locations in the map to give an idea of land area requirements and availability, although the particular scenario shown is suboptimal for many political and technical reasons.
|Location / Desert||Desert Size /km2 ||Irradiation /W m-2||Area required km2|
|Australia, Great Sandy||388,500||265||141,509|
|China, Takla Makan||271,950||210||178,571|
|South America, Atacama||139,860||275||136,364|
|U.S.A., Great Basin||492,100||220||170,455|
then there was this beauty...
this is how much african desert it'd take to power....a whole bunch of stuff
The DESERTEC Concept
For illustration: Areas of the size as indicated by the red squares would be sufficient for Solar Thermal Power Plants to generate as much electricity as is currently consumed by the World, by Europe (EU-25) and by Germany respectively. (Data provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), 2005)
Satellite-based studies by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have shown that, using less than 0.3% of the entire desert areas of the MENA region, Solar Thermal Power Plants can generate enough electricity to supply current demands in EU-MENA, and anticipated increases in those demands in the future. In addition, it has potential to alleviate shortages of fresh water in the MENA regions. The trade winds of southern Morocco may be harnessed to generate additional supplies of electricity. Clean electricity can be transmitted via High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines throughout EU-MENA with overall transmission losses that would be no more than 10-15%. The Club of Rome and TREC are both supporting this DESERTEC concept of putting technology and deserts into service for energy, water and climate security. Countries like Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and the United Emirates have already shown a strong interest in this kind of cooperation.
Sketch of a parabolic trough collector. (A simplified alternative to a parabolic trough concentrator is the linear Fresnel mirror reflector.)
The best solar power technology for providing secure capacity is Solar Thermal Power Plants (also called Concentrating Solar Thermal Power, CSP). They use mirrors to concentrate sunlight to raise steam and generate electricity. Excess heat from additional collectors can be stored in tanks of molten salt and then be used to power the steam turbines during the night, or when there is a peak in demand. In order to ensure uninterrupted service during overcast periods or bad weather, the turbines can also be powered by oil, natural gas or biomass fuels. An interesting by-product that can be a great benefit to the local population is that waste heat from the power-generation process can be used to desalinate seawater and to generate thermal cooling.
With the technology of High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) power, transmission losses can be limited to only about 3% per 1000 km. The better solar radiation in North Africa outweighs by far the transmission losses across the Mediterranean of 10-15% to Europe. Although hydrogen has in the past been proposed as an energy vector, this form of transmission is very much less efficient than HVDC transmission lines.
Capacity, Costs & Space:
Possible indicators of the total EU-MENA High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) interconnection and Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP) plants from 2020 - 2050 according to the TRANS-CSP scenario.
The technologies that are needed to realise this concept are already fully developed and have been in use for decades. HVDC transmission lines up to 1.5 GW capacity have been utilized for many years by ABB and Siemens. If more power is to be transmitted, more than one line can be used. At the World Energy Dialogue 2006 in Hanover, Germany, both companies have confirmed that the implementation of a Trans-Mediterranean energy cooperative is, technically, not a problem at all.
Solar Thermal Power Plants such as, for example Parabolic Trough Power Plants, have been in use commercially at Kramer Junction in California since 1985. Further solar power plants are actually planned or in construction e.g. in Nevada and Spain, with German, Spanish and US companies playing a major role. Solar Thermal Power Plants can generate electricity in the deserts of MENA at all times of the day and night, throughout the year. The DLR has calculated that, if Solar Thermal Power Plants were to be constructed in large numbers in the coming years, the estimated cost (including transmission cost) will come down from 9-22 EuroCent/kWh to about 5 EuroCent/kWh.
In order to establish, by 2050, a transmission grid and a capacity of 100 GW of exportable solar power, over and above the domestic needs of Sunbelt countries, the required governmental financial support would be less than 10 billion Euros. Given that level of support for feed-in regulations, the construction of the solar power plants and the necessary transmission grid would very soon be attractive to investors, both private and public. The total investment that would be needed would be about 400 billion Euros over 30 years. An exact investment forecast for the TRANS-CSP scenario has been researched by the DLR.
seems like we need a G35 meetup to agree to do something like this.
i bet they wouldn't need to surround the meeting with billions of euros of thugsecurity either...
sheesh, there'd probably be billions of muslims carrying flowers...
can you imagine, crowds of people, coming to celebrate the good, humane decisions those with the most responsibility, our so-called leaders were making?
what a world that would be...