What's stopping us getting solar power from deserts?
Plans to use concentrating solar power plants in the Sahara to generate and export electricity have been on the table for years. Now, it looks as though political will might help move things forward
The logic of the idea would seem obvious to a child: the human race needs to wean itself off fossil fuels, so why don't we build solar power plants in the world's deserts, to give us all the energy we need?
This concept has long been promoted by Desertec, a European network of scientists and engineers, which argues that just 1 per cent of the surface area of the world's deserts could generate as much electricity as the world is now using.
Desertec envisages a massive deployment of solar technology in Middle Eastern and North African countries, exporting electricity to Europe. The vision may seem idealistic, but there have been signs recently that politicians and industry are starting to take the Desertec proposals seriously.
Image shows that one per cent of the surface area of the world's deserts would be enough to meet our current electricity needs, see dot on the wastern Sahara Desert.