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Sahara Solar To Power Half the World By 2050

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the gonna-need-a-longer-cable dept.

Earth 363

eldavojohn writes "A Japanese/Algerian effort called The Sahara Solar Breeder Project employs a simple concept revolving around the pure silica in the sand of the Sahara Desert. The silica can be used to build vast solar arrays which will then provide the power and means to build more solar arrays in a classic breeder model. They would then use DC powerlines utilizing high temperature superconductors. The lead of the project points out that silica is the second most abundant resource in the Earth's crust. The project's lofty goals to harness the Sahara's energy has a few requirements — including 100 million yen annually — but also the worldwide cooperation of many nations and the training of the scientists and engineers to create and man these desert plants. The once deadly wasteland of the Sahara now looks like a land rich in an important resource: sunlight."

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Well, we've finished with the hard part (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417108)

Now all we have to do is build a massive worldwide network of new transmission lines, stabilize the governments of Africa, and get every country in the world to agree on how the power is to be shared.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (2)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417174)

Gee, when you put it that way, it almost sounds hard.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (4, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417234)

Cheap electricity would go a long way to stabilize Africa.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417290)

Well it certainly worked that way with the oil and diamonds.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (3, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417462)

I think he's assuming that the Western governments don't purposefully impoverish the same nations again by forcing them into contracts that don't allow them any rights or infrastructure to process the finished goods themselves.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417612)

s/governments/corporations/

the governments just stand aside and plug their ears, close their eyes and hum loudly.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417800)

Which is recognized widely as a missed opportunity. Countries like Norway or Saudi Arabia proved that when used correctly (ie. through state-controlled companies, yes), oil brings wealth to the citizens. IT doesn't do so automatically and it won't help solve human right issues, but when used correctly it is a great opportunity of development.

The problem is not having valuable resources, it is having corrupted leaders to negotiate them. A good leader would use that as an opportunity to bring knowledge and business opportunities to its country. A corrupt one will just give you a free pass as long as you put 50 millions in his pockets every year.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417298)

No it wouldn't. What's destabilizing Africa at this point is corrupt politicians and other government officials. Providing a huge pot of cash isn't going to help that. The assumption you're making only applies when it's incompetence causing the problems rather than corruption. If it were just incompetence that would eventually solve itself, all they'd have to do is ask for help from the outside world. With corruption there is an incentive to keep the people out that might threaten your cash stream.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417500)

you're forgetting the giant corporations who want to extract resources and the IMF which goes hand in glove with them. Oh, but it's easier to just blame them, after all, when we left 50 years ago we gave them the gift of democracy and its their fault they don't use it.

It could go a long way (2)

coolmanxx (150620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417650)

The biggest problem in most African countries (particularly subsaharan) is unemployment. Many African countries have nearly 50% unemployment! Why is this?

Firstly, there are no jobs. There are no jobs because there is little foreign investment in industry. There is little foreign investment in industry because of rampant corruption to the highest levels, thereby creating great instability.

Africa is ofcourse resource rich, so the easiest way to make money there is to extract the raw materials and get it the hell out as quick as possible.

Now, if one were to invest billions in infustructure, that creates jobs. Jobs allow families to fund the education of their children. A better educated populace is able to better take care of themselves and hopefully usher in a better generation of civil leaders.

Providing cheap reliable electricity is also a key component to development. One would hope that some of the power generation from these arrays would help the local populace.

Change like this takes decades, but it happening. Africa is more stable and peaceful now that it has ever been. Considering how far they yet have to go, its quite an acheivement.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417868)

What's destabilizing Africa at this point is corrupt politicians and other government officials. Providing a huge pot of cash isn't going to help that.

I have a theory that if you supply enough cash, then everyone - corrupt or not - is happy and can get on with things.
Take Ireland, for example...

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417370)

I'd like to know your logic behind that.

Cheap electricity will only be used to buy more guns.

Much like how ANY OTHER exportable resource they have has been used.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (2)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417436)

Just electrocute everybody; a population of zero implies stability.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417386)

Right, because cheap petroleum reserves have been so effective in stabilizing the Middle East.

Somehow, I don't anticipate that "striking gold" in another poor, un-developed part of the world would turn out any better in the Sahara than it has in the Arabian Peninsula.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

brinic (938562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417538)

Part of the project's proposal is to transfer technology to the local population. This seems like a critical step in the plan (assuming the technology works and the engineering issues can be worked out). If there are more educated people in the local populace and more jobs, this should help to distribute the wealth and stabilize the Saharan countries.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417258)

My proposal:

Make it a private and isolated operation devoted to powering energy-intensive industries. One killer app for this would be making residential solar panels; instead of spreading out across the Sahara you distribute the production all over the world. All that's needed is a good cheap design that doesn't depend on too many exotic materials.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417490)

All that's needed is a good cheap design that doesn't depend on too many exotic materials.

Oh, is that all? Although the good news is that that's all we need to solve world hunger as well...

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417770)

Edible solar panels - now *there's* a patentable idea...

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417628)

All that's needed is a good cheap design that doesn't depend on too many exotic materials.

Don't use solar panels, use concentrating solar plants.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

Wolvenhaven (1521217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417350)

It would probably be easier to do the whole satellite power beaming thing and stationing mercenary troops to defend the collectors than to accomplish the first two; and just let That Lucky Old Sun choose who gets the power.

Surely, a product of American education (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417414)

There are many ways to utilize it without running transmission lines. One simple idea is fuel cells, which would be best if they could also be manufactured out of mostly silica. If they hold their electric charge with enough efficiency, you could eventually have an all-electric transportation system, including the cargo ships used to deliver them worldwide.

No countries have to agree on how to share power. They can either buy it from African nations or not. Until the United States gets involved, at least.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

brinic (938562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417574)

I imagine the first power lines would go to Europe, which is not an insignificant distance. If the power transmission doesn't work over that distance then it has little chance of meeting the global energy needs from the Sahara. However, there are a lot more deserts in Asia, Australia and the Americas that could provide power to population centers on those continents.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417678)

With the increasing desertification going around throughout the world, especially in Africa, the transmission line problem will shortly be a non-issue.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

zaq1xsw2cde9 (608119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417716)

Would the Transmission Lines need to be literal?

Maybe you could use transmission lines to the Ocean, and use the power to store the energy as Hydrogen for piping or shipment to use for fuels cells?

Maybe the old Space array option of Microwave Satellite distribution?

Desert Energy Monolopy! (3, Funny)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417822)

The Splice Must Flow!

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

Lashat (1041424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417834)

That's actually easier than you would think. Build well insulated homes. Power then with that cheap electricity. Install Air Conditioning units in all of them. People now enjoy staying home and out of that "Africa hot" heat.

Re:Well, we've finished with the hard part (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417840)

As opposed to storing the energy in the form of (random example) fuel cells and then transporting them elsewhere for use?

Yen (5, Informative)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417132)

100million yen is 1 million dollars...That really isn't much money.

That said, the project is incredibly unrealistic, or at least the stated goal is.

Re:Yen (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417204)

Yup. That won't buy you much in the way of cutting-edge superconductive wiring.

Re:Yen (4, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417458)

That's what they're asking for the five year "problem-solving phase", i.e. the engineers-doodling-on-a-whiteboard part. Still seems way too low, though, considering the scope of the project.

Also, by "power half the world" I assume they mean "power the whole world for half the day", since even in the sahara the sun does occasionally set. IMO, a means of efficiently storing enough power to run half the world would be an even bigger feat than tiling the sahara with PV.

Re:Yen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417632)

It's still orders of magnitude more realistic than Space Nutter delusions like space-based solar!

Oh great (-1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417172)

At last we can remove our dependency on oil, which means investing in Mozzie loony countries that pass profits terrorists ....... with an energy source controlled by Mozzie loony countries that will pass the profits to terrorists.

Re:Oh great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417264)

You are a bigot and a fucking idiot.

Re:Oh great (1)

Elbart (1233584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417388)

The Tuaregs and others are probably already decided, who gets to hold which solar-panels for ransom.

Re:Oh great (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417380)

You do realize that a lot of the countries in Africa are majority Muslim, right? There's a particularly strong Muslim population in the portion of Africa that covers the Sahara. So, this wouldn't solve your problem at all. But then again little would seeing as you're a bigoted moron.

Re:Oh great (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417514)

You do know where the Sahara is, right?

And where those "mozzie loony" terrorists have there camps and influence, right?

Also (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417180)

100 million yen = 1.2 million USD

Not too shabby, assuming you ignore the inevitable wars and such. There are plenty of people willing to shell that out every year for something like this.

Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417214)

Why DC when AC is better for long distances?

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417302)

AC is more stable over distance because DC has to compete against natural differences in ground voltage, but DC is better for really long distances as it is theoretically nearly lossless while AC loses proportional to the length of the cable.

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (2)

LordEd (840443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417580)

Lossless?

V = IR

Lets say your wire has .1 ohm every km of length. Transmit 1A over that distance.

1 * .1 = .1V loss on that km. Transmit it 10 km. You'll drop 1V on the line.

That, or bring out your theoretical 0 ohm wire.

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (2)

tuns1999 (1768020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417712)

from TFA "superconducting power lines kept cold by liquid nitrogen-a technology" or in other words the theoretical nearly zero ohm wire

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417724)

That, or bring out your theoretical 0 ohm wire.

You should at least read the article summary at the top of this page. (Hint: the wire *is* 0 ohms.)

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (4, Informative)

wgaryhas (872268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417876)

AC and DC power lines both loose energy to resistance. AC power looses energy in another fashion due to capacitance and inductance called reactive power. By using superconductors (0 ohm resistance) for the power lines, you eliminate all losses for DC, most losses for AC, and introduce new losses for the cooling equipment. Of course, with superconductors the formula isn't as simple as V=IR because then you could get infinite current. (V/0 = I) With superconductors, there is a maximum current density (Amps per m^2 as the area of the cross section of the wire) before the wire starts to produce resistance.

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (1)

Framboise (521772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417662)

Remember superconductors have zero resistance.
 

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417722)

but DC is better for really long distances as it is theoretically nearly lossless while AC loses proportional to the length of the cable.

[Citation Needed]

Also, FYI both have I^2 * R losses that are proportional to the length of the cable. Claiming that DC has no losses proportional to the length of the cable is equivalent to claiming zero current, which only happens when there's no load.

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417434)

DC doesn't have any induction losses, for one thing - I believe that's why it's popular for ocean cables (where the losses are far greater than when hanging from pylons).

No good reason (3, Insightful)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417438)

Why DC when AC is better for long distances?

It's not - high voltage is better for long distances than low voltage, but it doesn't matter if it's AC or DC.

AC is better because it can be run through a transformer and stepped up or down to different voltages for long distance or local distribution - it's the high voltage that's better for long distances because Power = Volts x Current, and wires carry voltage more easily than they carry current. The efficiency of the transmission line has nothing to do with wether the voltage is AC or DC, but everything to do with how high the voltage is.

High voltage DC could be used, but before the advent of inverter technology there was no easy way to step a DC voltage up or down, so power generating utilities almost universally use AC.

Using an ideal superconductor instead of normal metal wires would eliminate the resistive losses in the transmission line, but it sure sounds expensive.

DC is used at some points in the power grid, presumably at interconnect sites where power from two or more generating facilities has to be combined and the AC voltages are out of phase or not at the same frequency.

I honestly think the inclusion of superconductors is just to make the project more buzzworthy. There's no advantage to using high voltage DC especially when they're intending to run PV production plants off of it - A/C is much more useful in that case.

At least Saharan Africa is more stable than sub-Saharan Africa politically. Haven't been there since the late 1970s, but it was a fun vacation.

Union Electric Power in Keokuk, Iowa (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417730)

This is one of (if not the) oldest hydroelectric power stations in the U.S. It's also a pretty cool bit of architecture on the river.

I toured it about 15 years ago during a motorcycle trip and the guy said that they originally transmitted DC power and that they still did to a metal smelter downriver in Missouri as it was more efficient (no conversion losses) and the long-time customer was still setup to use it.

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (5, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417608)

AC is actually NOT better for long (and I mean LONG) distances. Short to medium runs (dozens of miles) it's not too bad and the ability to efficiently change voltages with AC using transformers means you can keep current down and wire sizes small.

AC won out in the beginning because there was no cost effective means to alter DC voltage between efficient transmission voltage and safe/practical usage voltage.

However, wires have capacitance. Overcoming that capacitance requires energy, which is an inefficiency. When your cable goes from dozens of miles to hundreds of miles these losses become significant. DC doesn't have to deal with the capacitance issue, so it is actually more efficient here. Modern solid state power electronics also make changing DC voltages efficient and practical enough to use HVDC across long distances and Medium-Low Voltage AC for local distribution.

Add superconductors to the mix and the advantage of DC increases substantially.

Lastly, transmitting in DC solves problems with synchronizing and matching AC frequencies where otherwise independent grids interconnect. Each end of the DC link doesn't "see" or care about the frequency/timing of the other end.
=Smidge=

Re:Why DC when AC is better for long distances? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417740)

As AC transmission lines get longer, they become more efficient as radiating antennas. Capacitance loses add up too. A 600+ km is where it makes sense to use DC vs AC.

Also, AC lines use high voltage to avoid loses, but that means transmission towers must be very tall to avoid capacitive lose to the ground. DC lines towers can be much shorter.

In short, better efficiency, lower installation costs.

Excellent idea thanks to the Professor (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417218)

Professor Koinuma is on the right track here. The Sun, being the most abundant source of renewable energy, is obviously the most efficient resource to power the world.

We could power the world using only a fraction of the Earth's surface area. [landartgenerator.org]

I really hope that this project succeeds, even if it is done on a smaller scale.

Re:Excellent idea thanks to the Professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417344)

The Sun, and its energy, is not renewable.

Re:Excellent idea thanks to the Professor (2)

ThatMegathronDude (1189203) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417504)

For timescales relevant to any imaginable human civilization, the sun is an inexhaustible supply of energy.

Re:Excellent idea thanks to the Professor (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417718)

Or more appropriately, when the sun varies from it's current output by more than about 10%, running our electrical devices will no longer be in the top ten list of problems facing humanity.

Re:Excellent idea thanks to the Professor (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417820)

The Sun, being the most abundant source of renewable energy.

Oh please. There's only so much hydrogen in there, and it's turning to helium at an alarming rate!

With apologies to Frank Herbert (2)

mrex (25183) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417222)

Bless the Maker and His water^H^H^H^H^H photons.
Bless the coming and going of Him.
May His passage cleanse the world.
May He keep the world for His people.

Re:With apologies to Frank Herbert (2)

fl_litig8r (904972) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417308)

Desert power. Literally.

Warming of sand vs. solar cells (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417224)

I wonder if the net warming from the captured and spent energy is greater than what is reflected by the sand (: Guess it would have to be pretty big to have an impact (but it would look awsome from space ;) ).

I'm always intrigued by desert solar projects (3, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417232)

The thing is, it doesn't cost much to try. And if this thing works, it could be a huge boon for the world. We definitely need to ramp up production on solar to get extra energy. Surplus energy could be used for electric cars of the future. Electric cars could then transport goods cheaper than they do now, allowing for people with low income to afford transportation & food.

Re:I'm always intrigued by desert solar projects (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417272)

Oh what I meant to say is,"Every solar attempt made brings us closer to realizing what is possible to do." It sounds ambitious for this guy to think he's going to solve desert solar, but I wouldn't want to stand in his way. Maybe he could help the pool of research in the field.

Re:I'm always intrigued by desert solar projects (1)

sabs (255763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417284)

Couldn't we do this in the US deserts?
The Mojave, the Sonoran?

Re:I'm always intrigued by desert solar projects (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417334)

Couldn't we do this in the US deserts?
The Mojave, the Sonoran?

I can imagine the Native Americans feeling a sense of deja vu. There's gold in those Indian lands.....

Re:I'm always intrigued by desert solar projects (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417564)

Precisely the kind of things that would make valuable use of the bailout money. A trillion dollars will buy a lot of renewable energy. Unfortunately, it's been squandered. Maybe next time!

First with obligatory Toto reference (1)

vm146j2 (233075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417256)

Hurry, boy.

Envirowackos won't like this (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417260)

So, how long will this dream last after the first lawsuit to protect some insect local to the area to be covered by solar panels?

Yes, it's not the USA, but the companies involved in the process will be first world companies, with all the potential for idiotic lawsuits implicit in first world sensibilities....

Re:Envirowackos won't like this (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417456)

Each grain of sand is unique and should be protected. Man should not kill grains of sand in order to selfishly extract their silicon without their permission. We in the SiliVegan organization object to the subjugation of sand for man's commercial use. Each grain has a soul that should be protected. Unless you get one in your eye 'cause that really hurts.

Re:Envirowackos won't like this (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417852)

Fucking atomic oppressionists.

Re:Envirowackos won't like this (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417536)

The needs of the whole outweigh the needs of the individual lawyers, so they will LOSE

Re:Envirowackos won't like this (1, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417578)

Only someone as boringly stupid as you are could come up with such nonsense. The biodiversity of sub-Saharan Africa is spread out over tens of thousands of square miles. As long as the development doesn't impede migratory patterns or survival of some important food chain, no one is going to complain.

"Envirowackos" are trying to make sure that shortsighted development doesn't cause more harm in the long run than it fixes. When you have to spend more money cleaning up a mess than it saved in economic productivity, it's not even economically useful and it's potentially disastrous for humans.

Take your hollow viewpoint back to whatever rotting pundit orifice you dragged it out of.

Re:Envirowackos won't like this (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417844)

I am not an Ecco anything but to be honest this kind of thing statement seems so dumb that it makes my head hurt.
Deserts are not useless. They are an ecosystem just like a rain forest, coral reef, river, or prairie.
And at some point in history we have decided that the useless and dangerous rain forest needed to be cut down to make product farm land, the river needed to be dammed so the water wouldn't be wasted, the dangerous reef had to be cut so ship didn't wreck, and the useless barren prairie needed to be plowed under to become product farm land.
This may be a good idea but the attitude seems like the same old attitude that caused the dust bowl. Of course for the US the American SW would seem like a much better and more secure location for such a project.

Re:Envirowackos won't like this (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417854)

So, how long will this dream last after the first lawsuit to protect some insect local to the area to be covered by solar panels?

It would be kind of hard to argue that the Sahara is an environmentally sensitive area since much of that region wasn't even a desert 10,000 years ago.

no subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417300)

100 Million Yen? Well that's like 10 dollars. No big deal!

Making the desert hotter (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417322)

Solar panels are darker than sand and will therefore absorb more heat from sunlight rather than reflecting it back into space, so wouldn't this make the desert significantly hotter when deployed on a large scale, especially given the low efficiency of solar panels?

Re:Making the desert hotter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417428)

Hmmm, I don't know - if only the solar cells could do something with all that extra energy they absorb, then that would solve the problem!

Re:Making the desert hotter (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417544)

Just use some of the power to run a really big air conditioner!

Re:Making the desert hotter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417890)

There's no question that an installation of this scale would have significant unintended environmental consequences, and given the degree of technical ignorance and moral boosterism of those promoting "sustainable" energy, those raising concerns about this will be met with derision.

This is of course a common pattern with the roll-out of our industrial energy sources (concerns about carbon in the atmosphere were being derided a century ago), but the derision now for those questioning these new industrial devices (both solar & wind) is all the more disgusting because we should know by now that there is no such thing as free energy.

To the likely affects: look to see atmospheric disturbances as the first manifestation - changes in weather patterns and political fallout. More pernicious will be the next wave, when, under the guise of ameliorating these weather impacts, but in fact to create more days of sunlight over a larger area, man-made weather controls are introduced. These weather controls will then be deployed more frequently to support industrial solar & wind applications around the globe, and the resulting atmospheric instability (and its political complications) will make global warming seem like a picnic.

To repeat: the only free energy is that not used. Solar & wind have their own forms of pollutants, and there is no such place on earth that is a blank slate, Sahara included.

Fiction? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417400)

First thing I thought of when I heard of this was the problem of distribution.

The video suggests that it would ultimately supply energy "worldwide through DC power lines using high temperature superconductors".

Uhmm... yeah, that's practical.

Even if they did exist, which they don't and there's no indication that's liable to change anytime soon, I'm quite sure that high temperature superconductors would end up being INSANELY expensive due to demand, making their application for anything as large as something like this hopelessly infeasible.

I know the name of the conglomerate... (1)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417418)

Icarus Energy!

Re:I know the name of the conglomerate... (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417554)

No, that would only lead to an economic meltdown.

100 Million Yen sounds big, but that's only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417482)

with the current exchange rates, 100M¥ are only a little more than 900k €, 700k £ or 1.2M $ (US, CA or AU ; 1.5M $NZ) or 1.2M CHF.

  Not cheap, but not a big requirement...

Gundam (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417492)

So, am I the only one who thought of the giant solar panels in space on Gundam 00?

Calling for trouble (5, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417508)

Distributing energy from the Sahara to all the world will meet some resistance.

Re:Calling for trouble (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417714)

That's why they are planning on using either superconducting power lines or high-voltage direct current transmission lines to minimize energy loss.

Re:Calling for trouble (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417734)

Well played.

*golf clap*

What About Big Oil Fighting Back? (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417520)

I'm glad to see an organization/company that is independent of 'Big Oil' move on this. You see the 'Big Oil' companies bragging about green energy this and that, but I think they get in on it to control yet another niche market/patents/technology that infringes on their income with the petroleum-based natural resources they pillage now. What has survived so far in this downed economy in the United States? Fuel, oil and cigarettes. I don't see the biggest renewable energy companies in the world changing their ways of currently lining their pockets with dollar bills until it's too late.

On the subject of silica/sand and the Sahara desert: regardless of how desolate or 'deemed useless' a desert is, it's still an eco-system that makes the world go 'round, so hopefully it doesn't get pillaged in the process.

Breeder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417526)

For some reason adding "Breeder" to the name made me think it's some kind of bashing towards straights.

Morons (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417548)

Sandstorm + Solar Array = ???

Re:Morons (1)

Thavilden (1613435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417704)

= a highly polished solar array! How clever of them.

Re:Morons (2)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417756)

Sandstorm + Solar Array = Highly-polished metal stumps

They are kidding right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417562)

Has anyone considered what blocking that much sunlight would do to the desert ecosystem? A nuclear power plant would likly have less of an enviromental / planetary impact and damage alot less surface area on the planet.

Yay once again (1)

Shugart (598491) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417590)

Yay! Once again the solution to all the worlds energy problems has been found and posted on slashdot!

So, no more dependence on foreign oil (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417594)

Just a bigger dependence on foreign electricity, instead.

At least oil can be stored efficiently and portably. So if your supplier decided to turn off the tap you still have enough reserves to bomb the crap out of them, sorry: that should read negotiate a new deal. With electricity, the moment they flip the switch, all the lights go out.

Great!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417614)

We will still be dependent on hateful Muslims. Only we'll be trading an addiction on fossil fuels, for an addiction to cheap solar power. This is just another ugly little power play by greedy, ugly, coffee-coloured barbarians to keep us hooked, and keep us paying the dirty kuffar jizya tax.

Finally! (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417742)

We'll be able to move away from energy dependence on an unstable region ruled by religious fanatics. Wait - oh, crap.

FTFY (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417772)

the Sahara now looks like a land rich in an important resource: sunlight and lots of mainly useless space.

Terrorists (1)

Igarden2 (916096) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417786)

Terrorists in the Sahara to begin blackmail in 3....2.....1.....

slight problem... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34417836)

has anyone considered the weather impacts of taking all that energy which currently heats the Sahara out of the Sahara so the Sahara isn't being heated so much? It will have a massive effect, not necessarily for the good.

overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34417898)

I for one welcome our new solar array overlords!

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