Deserts are basically waste land, but they get a lot of sun. Ideal properties for huge solar power farms?
But how could we harness the vast power produced given the distance to population centres? For example could the power be used to create or transfer a usable transportable product, for example seawater desalination to further transform marginal land..
Jack, your idea is already being built. There are some small experimental solar power stations in the desert. The earlier ones used solar electric panels with limited success, mainly because since these devices are made of silicone, like a computer chip, they slow down and lose production in high temperatures. There is a project underway to use solar thermal collectors in the Sahara Desert to produce massive amounts of electricity, which will be sent to power Europe on high voltage lines. The big difference here is they are not heating water directly to produce steam, instead they are heating oil to several hundred degrees, using both the power of the sun and the natural heat that exists in the desert, and the super heated oil is then used to heat water into steam. Another advantage to this is the oil holds its heat for much longer than the water, so even after the sun has gone down, some energy can be extracted, working like a thermal battery. The plan is to also use the excess during the day to run desalinators and vegetate the area around the solar farm to provide for the people that will live and work at the farm. The desalinators would only run when there was an excess of solar power, in the afternoon, and the fresh water could be stored in reservoirs. There are some excellent photos online, try googling, “Sahara Desert Solar Project,” then click on Images near the top left of your screen.
Solar power is still a very small slice of our energy mix today, but like wind, as we find ways to improve its production and sustainability, it will grow quite quickly over time. Over the planet as a whole, wind power is being increased by almost 30% each year. In a few years, solar will most likely do the same. We live in a home in the Northern Midwest that is completely powered by the wind and sun. Twelve years ago when we started on the project, almost everyone thought we were wasting our time and money. Now our electric bills are less than $5 per month, and the power has not gone out at our home for even a minute the last 7 years. Now the general public tends to think the same thing about grid power coming from a renewable source as our neighbors thought about our home 10 years ago. If you want to learn more, there are some great non profit groups involved in this stuff, I will list some below. Take care jack, Rudydoo
“SAMURAI” Solar Power Generating System for Home Use by Kyoc
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