Wind and Solar Energy Farms Would Revive Vegetation in the Sahara Desert

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The establishment of significant wind and solar farms in the Sahara desert would slow the pace of global warming in the region and boost rainfall in this dry African area, according to researchers. The study is based on computer simulations of the impact of covering 20% of the world’s most magnificent desert with solar cells and 3 million wind turbines, says the study’s report published in Science.

A solar and wind farm of over 9 million square kilometers would be enough to supply energy to the entire world, according to the researchers. Generally, the scientists discovered that any future changes in the African desert resulting from wind and solar facilities would be a positive thing, as more plants would be growing close to those farms.

The simulations show that the combined effect of the wind farm and the solar farm resulted in an overall rainfall rise in the Sahara, from about 0.24 millimeters per day to 0.59 mm.

Wind and solar energy farms would revive vegetation in the Sahara desert

The development of massive wind and solar power farms in Sahara would be “enough to have a big ecological, environmental and social impact,” according to the study’s the report. However, “most of the Sahara would remain extremely dry,” as Daniel Kirk-Davidoff from the University of Maryland stated.

But more rainfall throughout the southern Sahara would result in increased plant growth, “which would allow more grazing,” said Kirk-Davidoff. “It’s hard to say this would be a bad thing for the communities in the area,” the researcher added.

The motivation for that has to do with the manner in which wind farms deliver warmer air from the top, in particular at night, which can enhance evaporation and plant growth, consequently. This hot air swap can also double the daily rainfall quantity.

“Increased rainfall and vegetation, combined with clean electricity from solar and wind energy sources, could help agriculture, economic development and well-being in the Sahara, Sahel, Middle East, and other nearby regions,” said Safa Motesharrei, the study’s co-author.

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Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.


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