Why Cannot We Put Solar Panels In The Sahara Desert And Provide Electricity To The Whole World?


Solar energy is a 100% renewable source of electricity with zero emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Possibly, placing a solar power station in the desert is a good idea, but Sahara is located in at least 11 African countries. Besides, many of them are not distinguished by political stability.

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Solar Panels In The Sahara Desert
Solar Panels In The Sahara Desert

On the other hand, to provide electricity to the whole of Europe and North Africa, it would be enough solar panels on part of the territory of Libya or Algeria constituting less than 1/65 the area of the Sahara, or 125,000 square km.

If all the solar panels deployed in Germany over the past decade were located 2,500 km to the south, for example, in Algeria, then they would be enough to supply electricity to the whole country for most of the year.

It is assumed that the efficiency of the collector devices is 20%, with a drop in sunlight, a power of 1000 W per sq. m for 2000 hours per year. The total area of solar panels is 497,000 square km.

Unfortunately, not everything is so simple.

Instability in African countries makes multi-billion dollar projects frightening for potential investors. To implement the project, you will have to place millions of panels, and it will be rather expensive.

Long-distance transmission of electricity is possible, but not optimal in this case. The construction of large-scale solar power plants would be an excellent opportunity for some African countries to improve their economy.

However, local electric networks are either poorly developed or are already involved in rational sources of electricity.

And the export of electricity, for example, to Europe will require power lines with a length of 800 – 3300 km, while transmission losses of up to 10% or more are possible. And then, the solar sources in Africa do not look so impressive.

Even within a developed country, it takes years to build a general-purpose solar power station with modern equipment and high-quality infrastructure. Therefore, in Africa, the implementation of such a project may be too complicated in practice.

From the beginning of financing to the supply of electricity through the Mediterranean, there are a lot of intermediate stages, each of which can stretch the project for years.

All of these factors make the construction of a large-scale solar power plant in the middle of the desert almost impossible.

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