G5ive
Topic Author
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Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:02 pm

Europe is considering plans to fit giant solar power stations along the Mediterranean desert, shores of northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. This would provide Europe with Billions of watts of power. How come no one ever thought of this before?
Read about it here
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Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:15 pm



Quoting G5ive (Thread starter):
How come no one ever thought of this before?

That concept is pretty much exactly as old as the idea of solar power generation in the first place...

But we will most probably not need to import quite as much energy from abroad in the long run (transportation losses are one concern among several).
 
rlwynn
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:24 pm

I think it would maybe help to power Africa first.
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andz
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:31 pm



Quoting Rlwynn (Reply 2):
I think it would maybe help to power Africa first.

My thoughts exactly, sounds like another way for the first world to use the third world to fuel their seemingly endless avarice.
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
G5ive
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:02 pm



Quoting Rlwynn (Reply 2):
I think it would maybe help to power Africa first.


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Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:57 pm



Quoting Rlwynn (Reply 2):
I think it would maybe help to power Africa first.

That's a nice thought, but since solar power technology is very complex and expensive it needs some kind of financing in any way. So deriving those funds at least initially from energy exports to Europe could very well be a way to do that.
 
mham001
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:22 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 5):

That's a nice thought, but since solar power technology is very complex and expensive it needs some kind of financing in any way.

Expensive, yes. Complex, hardly. Nice try to say that the Africans could never figure out how to use the sun on their own.
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:58 pm



Quoting Mham001 (Reply 6):
Expensive, yes. Complex, hardly. Nice try to say that the Africans could never figure out how to use the sun on their own.

How many solar cell production plants are there in Africa (especially outside of South Africa)?

It takes a lot more than just some "figuring out" to build up this kind of technology.
 
mham001
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:13 pm

Quoting Klaus (Reply 7):
How many solar cell production plants are there in Africa (especially outside of South Africa)?

It takes a lot more than just some "figuring out" to build up this kind of technology.

Who said you needed production plants to use a solar panel? Germany is not solar cell sufficient today, in fact how many solar cell production plants did Germany have when they decided they were going to invest in solar energy? Very few, if any because they were sourced out of Japan and the US. I know, because my own supplier suddenly couldn't sell me any more of my favorite panel. Many of the panels Germany is using are now made in China. Perhaps Germany doesn't have the smarts to do it either? Get off the arrogant high horse Klaus.

Anyway, mass production of solar power is cheaper and easier done with solar heat generators. Africas real problem is money and leadership.

[Edited 2007-12-03 11:14:10]
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:46 pm



Quoting Mham001 (Reply 8):
Who said you needed production plants to use a solar panel? Germany is not solar cell sufficient today, in fact how many solar cell production plants did Germany have when they decided they were going to invest in solar energy? Very few, if any because they were sourced out of Japan and the US. I know, because my own supplier suddenly couldn't sell me any more of my favorite panel. Many of the panels Germany is using are now made in China. Perhaps Germany doesn't have the smarts to do it either? Get off the arrogant high horse Klaus.

Nothing to do with "arrogance". Germany just happens to be a leader or the leader (depending on how you look at it) in solar cell technology today.

German solar cell production soars-industry group | Markets | Reuters

Quote:
FREIBURG, Germany, June 21 (Reuters) - Germany's solar cell production showed the fastest growth worldwide in 2006 thanks to strong demand, beating rival Japan, the German Solar Industry Association (BSW) said on Thursday.

[...]

Germany expects to stay ahead of Japan long-term if it manages to hold on to its technological leadership, the association said.

Germany overtook Japan as the world's largest solar market in 2004 and has stayed on top ever since.

Around 50 percent of global photovoltaic production technology comes from German firms, the BSW said.


The rapid growth in Germany is mainly due to a closely linked industry network and strong demand for solar energy as well as favourable government guidelines for the use of renewable energy, Koernig said.

"Nowhere else in the world is the density of production, research and equipment making higher," Koernig said.

The industry may turn into a leading job provider for Germany.

A recent study for the German government estimated that by 2020 more people will be working in the environmental industry than in the automotive or engineering industry.

[...]

Export sales are seen soaring to 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in 2012 from 1.2 billion euros last year, BSW figures showed.



Quoting Mham001 (Reply 8):
Anyway, mass production of solar power is cheaper and easier done with solar heat generators.

Even doing that efficiently is not trivial, but with the abundance of solar energy in most of Africa even relatively inefficient methods can still be good enough for a start. No doubt there.

Quoting Mham001 (Reply 8):
Africas real problem is money and leadership.

Primarily, yes. But it still takes more than just that to build a stable basis for technological progress.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:29 pm



Quoting Andz (Reply 3):
Quoting Rlwynn (Reply 2):
I think it would maybe help to power Africa first.

My thoughts exactly, sounds like another way for the first world to use the third world to fuel their seemingly endless avarice.

There's also that pesky problem of, well, getting the power to the point of use.

I wonder, has anyone told the Africans about this and asked them what they think about their countries being covered in solar panels to export power to Festung Europa?

I think the African man in the street could be forgiven if he said "G'wan! Get your own desert."
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
BHXFAOTIPYYC
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:53 pm



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
I think the African man in the street could be forgiven if he said "G'wan! Get your own desert."

I was thinking he might say something like: "Fine, we'll rent you the space if you like, but as far as our own needs go, when solar panels can better 12% efficiency come back and see us. In the meantime, stop telling us to use solar energy when coal and oil, which is what built your Western economies, are by far our cheapest sources of energy too."
Breakfast in BHX, lunch in FAO, dinner in TIP, baggage in YYC.
 
RacingGreen07
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:58 pm

I read in The Economist that there are plans to deploy solar panels as big as a few KM in area into orbit and beam power directly down via a very powerful microwave to a station on Earth.

I'll dig the article up sometime.....

Regards!
A dream worth having is a dream worth pursuing- August Horch- Founder of Audi AG
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:07 pm



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
I think the African man in the street could be forgiven if he said "G'wan! Get your own desert."

We are. Desertification is already progressing even in Europe. In Spain it is a major problem even today.

Quoting Bhxfaotipyyc (Reply 11):
I was thinking he might say something like: "Fine, we'll rent you the space if you like, but as far as our own needs go, when solar panels can better 12% efficiency come back and see us. In the meantime, stop telling us to use solar energy when coal and oil, which is what built your Western economies, are by far our cheapest sources of energy too."

Nobody is trying to force them to spend more on their own energy needs.

Quoting RacingGreen07 (Reply 12):
I read in The Economist that there are plans to deploy solar panels as big as a few KM in area into orbit and beam power directly down via a very powerful microwave to a station on Earth.

Yeah, that is also an old concept. But it is so inefficient, so dangerous and so obviously usable as a weapon that it is almost certainly dead in the water.
 
A342
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:53 pm

I fear Saudi Arabia will dominate the energy market even after the last barrel of oil has been sold. They can afford to build these plants right now, selling us hydrogen in the future.

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
I wonder, has anyone told the Africans about this and asked them what they think about their countries being covered in solar panels to export power to Festung Europa?

Two points to consider:

1. They'll make money with power export, and they won't be unhappy about that.
2. Would you care about the Mojave Desert being covered with solar panels?
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:04 pm



Quoting A342 (Reply 14):
I fear Saudi Arabia will dominate the energy market even after the last barrel of oil has been sold. They can afford to build these plants right now, selling us hydrogen in the future.

Hydrogen is overrated. It comes with so many problems as an energy storage or transport medium that I don't think it will see really widespread use.

And our main goal is and must be to become less dependent on energy imports of any kind. If we're successful with that, we will never again be as dependent on the Saudis (or Russia) as we've been in the past.
 
mham001
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:58 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 9):
Nothing to do with "arrogance". Germany just happens to be a leader or the leader (depending on how you look at it) in solar cell technology today.

German solar cell production soars-industry group | Markets | Reuters

Quote:
FREIBURG, Germany, June 21 (Reuters) - Germany's solar cell production showed the fastest growth worldwide in 2006 thanks to strong demand, beating rival Japan, the German Solar Industry Association (BSW) said on Thursday.

[...]

Germany expects to stay ahead of Japan long-term if it manages to hold on to its technological leadership, the association said.

Germany overtook Japan as the world's largest solar market in 2004 and has stayed on top ever since.

Around 50 percent of global photovoltaic production technology comes from German firms, the BSW said.

Certainly many ways to look at it, but don't drink all kool-aid. Germany's main claim to fame is being the largest market, which is expected to be far behind by 2011. Notice that your source claims "fastest growth", yet it is not even in the top 3 in solar cell production. How much solar cell manufacturing equipment is hard to tell without spending $1,200 for a market report. I happen to follow the industry weekly and much of the efficiency gains continue to come from the US. A subsidiary of Boeing for example, has set the record for maximum efficiency from a solar cell at 40%. Japan still produces the most cells, China at #3 is rising incredibly fast and will dwarf Germany's cell production easily. Last year, Spain's production rose 200%, so don't be too smug.....At any rate, my point is that it does not take a solar cell manufacturing industry to set and wire some panels in the desert, something Germany itself did not have prior to the onset of its solar initiative.
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:12 pm



Quoting Mham001 (Reply 16):
Certainly many ways to look at it, but don't drink all kool-aid.

It's got nothing to do with that. My point was that building up the technology and/or financing or large-scale solar facilities is not a piece of cake that any african country could just do at the drop of a hat if they only wanted to.

You either need the infrastructure resources to realize it yourself or you need to pay others for it. And even then some organisational and infrastructure requirements remain.
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:14 pm



Quoting Rlwynn (Reply 2):
My thoughts exactly, sounds like another way for the first world to use the third world to fuel their seemingly endless avarice.

From the article:

"The Desertec project envisages a ring of a thousand of these stations being built along the coast of northern Africa and round into the Mediterranean coast of the Middle East. In this way up to 100 billion watts of power could be generated: two thirds of it would be kept for local needs, the rest - around 30 billion watts - would be exported to Europe."

The solar concentrator plants can also be used to produce fresh drinking water, so I'd say it's very much a win-win for Africa.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:50 am



Quoting A342 (Reply 14):
Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
I wonder, has anyone told the Africans about this and asked them what they think about their countries being covered in solar panels to export power to Festung Europa?

Two points to consider:

1. They'll make money with power export, and they won't be unhappy about that.
2. Would you care about the Mojave Desert being covered with solar panels?

First point is not a given and the second point is unanswerable because I do not live in the Mojave. If I did I might have a problem with it particularly if me and my fellow Mojaveans or Mojavistas or whatever had been exploited ripped off and oppressed by the same people who now want to cover it with solar reflectors to air condition, say, Los Angeles, just like they stole the water out of the Owens Valley.


Anyway, how the hell are they going to get the power to europe? that's one hell of an extension cord.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Superfly
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:59 am

Shouldn't the focus be getting power from sources that don't involve tyrannical, despotic dictators?
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fumanchewd
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:39 am



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 10):
I wonder, has anyone told the Africans about this and asked them what they think about their countries being covered in solar panels to export power to Festung Europa?

I'm pretty sure that they will sell the rights to use their land on a lease. How much do you think a couple thousand hectacres of useless land would go for? They certainly wouldn't just let foreign companies claim their land.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
Rara
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:45 am

If I had a say, I'd seal off the Gibraltar strait, and then generate energy from the water that flows into the Mediterranean sea. That should provide enough energy for Europe and Africa alike.  Silly
Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
 
A342
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 3:46 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 15):
It comes with so many problems as an energy storage or transport medium

True, but what are the alternatives?

Quoting Rara (Reply 22):
If I had a say, I'd seal off the Gibraltar strait, and then generate energy from the water that flows into the Mediterranean sea. That should provide enough energy for Europe and Africa alike.

Huh? Why should the water flow in? Anyway, don't forget the Suez canal.
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
pelican
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:02 pm

Stupid idea. From one energy dependency to another.

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 19):
First point is not a given and the second point is unanswerable because I do not live in the Mojave. If I did I might have a problem with it particularly if me and my fellow Mojaveans or Mojavistas or whatever had been exploited ripped off and oppressed by the same people who now want to cover it with solar reflectors to air condition, say, Los Angeles, just like they stole the water out of the Owens Valley.

Considering how much the current energy exporters like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates "suffer" I guess the new energy exporters wouldn't have to fear much...

pelican
 
lowrider
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:22 pm



Quoting A342 (Reply 14):
2. Would you care about the Mojave Desert being covered with solar panels?

Not really. Use land that is currently not being used for anything else. Not just the mojave either, significant parts of New Mexico and Arizona could benefit from this as well. It would probably be more efficient, from the generation standpoint, to build a nuclear plant in the same area.
Proud OOTSK member
 
mham001
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:08 pm

One of the big things is power transmission. The cost to install infrastucture and the power loss while transmitting. Something that really makes me wonder is the idea that Africa will use 200 billion watts of power. Ha, how?
The article points out the extreme heat in the desert and seemed to be heading towards a heat generating plan. Solar panels are most efficient in cool temperatures and extremely so with snow on the ground. If we were to say lets put them where there is nothing, the Swiss Alps comes to mind. Not sure how many days of sun but the altitude, cold weather combined with snow and the shorter distance to transmit....would never happen though because you know this is all about putting it in somebody else's backyard.
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:10 pm

Quoting A342 (Reply 23):
True, but what are the alternatives?

For most stationary uses, most probably a combination of further increased efficiency and energy directly or via electricity from renewable sources.

For transportation (besides rail) probably synthetic liquid hydrocarbons - they're easy to transport and store, incur little storage and transportation losses, are comparatively safe to operate and compatible with existing infrastructures and motors.

Quoting A342 (Reply 23):
Huh? Why should the water flow in? Anyway, don't forget the Suez canal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strait_of_Gibraltar

Quote:
On a net basis, water continually flows eastward into and through the Strait of Gibraltar, due to an evaporation rate within the Mediterranean basin higher than the combined inflow of all the rivers that empty into it.


And the Suez Canal does have locks on either end as far as I'm aware - no difference to many other hydroelectric dams. Not that I'd think a Gibraltar dam would make real sense, but the Suez Canal wouldn't be that much of a problem.

[Edited 2007-12-05 15:33:49]
 
zak
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:42 pm



Quoting G5ive (Thread starter):
Europe is considering plans to fit giant solar power stations along the Mediterranean desert, shores of northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. This would provide Europe with Billions of watts of power.

actually, due to the transportation issue mentioned before, what makes A WHOLE LOT more sense is to use the electricity locally to create h2, liquify it, and send it to europe to be used there.
10=2
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Po

Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:05 am



Quoting Zak (Reply 28):
actually, due to the transportation issue mentioned before, what makes A WHOLE LOT more sense is to use the electricity locally to create h2, liquify it, and send it to europe to be used there.

Hydrogen is not a very good transport medium. It is difficult to contain, highly dangerous and not really all that efficient overall when you're considering the entire infrastructure.

Avoiding the need to transport energy over large distances as far as possible is the key, not substituting one problematic medium with another one without touching the root problem.
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:19 am



Quoting Zak (Reply 28):

actually, due to the transportation issue mentioned before, what makes A WHOLE LOT more sense is to use the electricity locally to create h2, liquify it, and send it to europe to be used there.

I fail to see how it makes more sense to:

- use the current to break down chemical bonds in water (lose energy in the process)?
- condense hydrogen to a few degrees above absolute zero (lose energy in the process)?
- load cryogenic hydrogen onto a tanker where it will cross the Med (losing due to transportation requirements, and losing hydrogen to boil-off)?
- deliver cryogenic hydrogen to Europe where no infrastructure now or in the foreseeable future exists to make use of it?

Transmitting power over long-distances isn't ideal, but using hydrogen is an even greater logistical headache. Especially with hydrogen's delicate storage conditions and low energy density, it's hardly convienient for transport.

Depending on where you are crossing the Med, the distance isn't any greater than Hoover Dam to the city of Los Angles. It's much more practical to send the electricity via under water cable.
 
zak
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:29 am



Quoting Klaus (Reply 29):
Hydrogen is not a very good transport medium. It is difficult to contain, highly dangerous and not really all that efficient overall when you're considering the entire infrastructure.

of course its not as efficient, but it is VERY low on emissions. i dont mean h2 as means of oil replacement, but certainly viable to either liquify or pipeline to powerplants in europe for electricity generation

Quoting Klaus (Reply 29):
Avoiding the need to transport energy over large distances as far as possible is the key, not substituting one problematic medium with another one without touching the root problem.

unless you can create high temperature superconductors, i would guess the transportation is more energy efficient than sending electricity.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 30):

- use the current to break down chemical bonds in water (lose energy in the process)?
- condense hydrogen to a few degrees above absolute zero (lose energy in the process)?
- load cryogenic hydrogen onto a tanker where it will cross the Med (losing due to transportation requirements, and losing hydrogen to boil-off)?
- deliver cryogenic hydrogen to Europe where no infrastructure now or in the foreseeable future exists to make use of it?

a) the electrolysis is a rather efficient process, already mass available in the high 70ies with concepts going into the 90%
b) you assume you need to cool things to liquify them, thats way too complicated, pressure -> pipeline or lng tanker. both are very common means of transportation for gas already.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 30):
Depending on where you are crossing the Med, the distance isn't any greater than Hoover Dam to the city of Los Angles. It's much more practical to send the electricity via under water cable.

i think that such project would initially start with liquified h2 and then progress to pipeline based work. since the distance is so short, i assume apart from gibraltar straight, it is just easier to send tankers that 12-18h trip from say algeria to france than build a pipeline there, and instead revert to pipelines on land.
10=2
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:04 am



Quoting Zak (Reply 31):
i would guess the transportation is more energy efficient than sending electricity.

Well, no. Electricity is already sent over these distances at commercially viable rates. In fact, it's been done since the 1930s. Modern technology has improved further:

http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/lib...e-transmission-systems/index.shtml

Quoting Zak (Reply 31):
a) the electrolysis is a rather efficient process, already mass available in the high 70ies with concepts going into the 90%

High-voltage transmission lines over these distances are already less than 10%

And you'll still lose waste energy to leaks, boil-off, and of course when you go to covert it back from hydrogen into electrical current. I can't emphasize what a horrible idea this is.
 
virgin744
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:27 am



Quoting G5ive (Thread starter):
How come no one ever thought of this before?

As you will no doubt agree, they have thought of this before - many time over, but the overriding factor as has been and will always be the case is motivation. Its part of human nature to not bother too much about certain things when, in this case, energy is in abundance, cheap and easy to attain at the moment.

Wait a decade or 2 and then see what the world will be like!  Wink
When the cost of energy goes through the roof, oil prices are near $200 a barrell and the cost to heat your house will be a month's income of today's low earners THEN see how crazy people will be about thinking up ideas to attain, harness & sell cheaper cleaner energy...

virgin744
 
mham001
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:38 am

i misrepresented what the article actually said. Here is the quote

" In this way up to 100 billion watts of power could be generated: two thirds of it would be kept for local needs, the rest - around 30 billion watts - would be exported to Europe.

An idea of how much power this represents is revealed through Britain's electricity generating capacity, which totals 12 billion watts."

BTW, I had no idea a European billion was any different that a US billion.
 
Stealthz
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:28 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 27):
And the Suez Canal does have locks on either end as far as I'm aware

No it doesn't, the Suez is a sea level waterway and does not require the locks used in the Panama canal to raise ships up over a mountain range, not that it is really relevent damming the straits of Gibralter is not really a viable concept anyway.
If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
 
Klaus
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RE: Africa's Desert Sun Can Provide Europe With Power

Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:37 pm



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 36):
No it doesn't, the Suez is a sea level waterway and does not require the locks used in the Panama canal to raise ships up over a mountain range,

Ah, okay. I had assumed they'd have locks to prevent equalization currents through the canal, but apparently that's not necessary. But building locks there wouldn't be the biggest problem since...

Quoting StealthZ (Reply 36):
damming the straits of Gibralter is not really a viable concept anyway.

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