How mirrors can light up the world
Researchers say that by building solar power plants that cover 0.5% of the world’s hot deserts, the entire world’s electrical needs can be met.
According to two reports prepared for the German government, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa should be building vast solar farms in North Africa's deserts using a simple technology that more resembles using a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper than any space age technology.
Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.
The mirrors are very large and create shaded areas underneath which can be used for horticulture irrigated by desalinated water generated by the plants. The cold water that can also be produced for air conditioning means there are three benefits. "It is this triple use of the energy which really boost the overall energy efficiency of these kinds of plants up to 80% to 90%," says Dr Knies.
This form of solar power is also attractive because the hot liquid can be stored in large vessels which can keep the turbines running for hours after the sun has gone down, avoiding the problems association with other forms of solar power.
Link & Image: Guardian Unlimited
Tags: Solar Energy | Power | Energy | Desert