LIGHTING UP EUROPE FROM NORTH AFRICA
The more the EU looks at this idea, the more acceptance it finds.
A recent presentation again touted the building of enough solar power plants in the North African and Middle Eastern deserts to power the EU and the building of a high voltage direct current (HVDC) supergrid to deliver it. Both British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy expressed approval.
Keep talking about it and sooner or later somebody’s liable to actually do something about the plan.
The concept of a European supergrid has been on the table for some years now. It would be expensive and its value would more than warrant the expense.
Supergrid would not only deliver solar energy-generated electricity TO Europe but would also transport wind energy-generated electricity AROUND Europe. It would eliminate any hesitations about New Energy based on intermittency because the wind is almost always blowing SOMEWHERE and, on those rare, rare moments when there is a complete, continent-wide doldrum, the sun is beating down hard on the deserts.
Supergrid would also make it possible for Iceland to export its abundant geothermal resources, a consistent baseload generation of sorts.
Proposed trans-Mediterranean routes: North Africa to Italy or Morocco to Spain.
Biggest expense: Hooking up the EU Mediterranean countries ((Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey), where transmission systems are in need of major re-structuring.
Overall vision: By 2050, a trans-Mediterranean system, a €450 billion investment, will be carrying 100 GIGAwatts.
Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK chief scientist, on the proposal: "Assuming it's cost-effective, a largescale renewable energy grid is just the kind of innovation we need if we're going to beat climate change."
The EU will need to realize such a vision in order to meet its “triple 20” of cutting energy consumption 20%, cutting greenhouse gas emissions 20% and obtaining 20% of its power from New Energy by 2020.
Technical footnote: The Supergrid will need to be high voltage direct current. HVDC cables carry more power than alternating current (AC) lines but require expensive AC to DC converter devices so only make economic sense for long distance, high volume transmission. HVDC cables cut power loss to ~3%/1,000 kilometers. The HVDC conversion also facilitates transmission between countries using various AC frequencies for various types of energy (including New Energies).
Click here for more on the EU Supergrid plan.
Click here for more on the trans-Mediterranean plan.
Southern Europe has good sun - but look at that red across North Africa and in the Middle East! (click to enlarge)
Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe’s electricity, says EU; Huge L35bn supergrid would pool green sources/Brown and Sarkozy back north African plan
Alok Jha, July 23, 2008 (UK Guardian)
Arnulf Jaeger-Waldau, Institute for Energy, European Commission; Nicholas Sarkozy, President, France; Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, England; European Commission (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) (Giovanni de Santi, director)
Jaeger-Waldau called for solar power plants in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East and a new supergrid to deliver the power generated there to Europe.
The trans-Mediterranean plan. (click to enlarge)
- Jaeger-Waldau spoke at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona 18-22 July 2008.
- 2010: Algeria’s combined cycle solar/natural gas plant comes on line.
- 2020: Algeria expects to be exporting 6,000 megawatts/year to the EU.
- 2050: A trans-Mediterranean system delivering 100 gigawatts.
- The solar energy falling on an area of the Sahara Desert slightly smaller than Wales could provide enough electricity to power Europe.
- The intensity of solar energy in North Africa is three times the intensity of solar energy in northern Europe.
- Proposed trans-Mediterranean routes: North Africa to Italy or Morocco to Spain.
- Portugal and Spain are building their own solar power plants.
- 0.3% of the sunlight falling on the deserts of the Sahara and the Middle East would generate the amount of electricity required by Europe.
- The supergrid would not only deliver solar energy-generated electricity to Europe but would also transport wind energy-generated electricity from Europe.
- The supergrid must carry high voltage direct current (DC) because alternating current (AC) loses too much power during long distance transmission, losses that would make the plan uneconomic.
- The JRC’s just-published strategic energy technology plan includes solar energy as 1of 8 technologies (also fuel cells and hydrogen, clean coal, second generation biofuels, nuclear fusion, wind, nuclear fission and smart grids) needed for the near- to medium-term future.
click to enlarge
- Arnulf Jaeger-Waldau, Institute for Energy, European Commission: "The biggest PV system at the moment is installed in Leipzig and the price of the installation is €3.25 per watt…If we could realise that in the Mediterranean, for example in southern Italy, this would correspond to electricity prices in the range of 15 cents per kWh, something below what the average consumer is paying."
- Giovanni de Santi, director, EC JRC: "It recognises something extraordinary - if we don't put together resources and findings across Europe and we let go the several sectors of energy, we will never reach these targets…"