The Sahara Desert Could Power The Entire World With Solar And Wind Farms

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It seems that the Sahara desert has the ability to power the entire world. We’re referring to solar and wind farms stretching across North Africa’s Saharian desert and relying only on existing technologies, it could produce enough electricity to power the entire world.

This amount of electricity is approximately 21 terawatt hours. These combined wind and solar arrays would also be able to increase rainfall in the region and this way slow down the steady southern encroachment of the desert.

This was the conclusion that the academic researchers arrived at. Experts at the University of Maryland and University of Illinois modeled their results in a study which was partly financed by a Chinese government agency.

Their results were published in the prestigious journal Science.

Financing and construction are the real challenges 

From a technological perspective, the Sahara wind/solar project can be considered old-school because it relies only on the so-called off the shelf existing technologies.

The real challenge comes from financing and the actual construction. Massive construction projects in such inhospitable climates almost always pose a challenge.

It’s also important to note that wind and solar projects can also produce “unintended consequences” for the environment as the Illinois and Maryland researchers said.

In the Saharan case though, the consequences, more precipitation, might actually be beneficial. Wind and solar farms change the surface roughness and reflectance, and this raises the local temperatures which are the last thing that Sahara needs.

On the other hand, temperature boost also increases the likelihood of precipitation, doubling it in this particularly arid region. This would also lead to increases in the growth of vegetation.

More vegetative ground cover will lead to increased evaporation and this would increase precipitation. Solar farms could have a similar environmental impact.

The challenge of building solar and wind farms across the Sahara desert and then delivering the power to those in need is quite a challenging task but it’s definitely worth considering.


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