Sahara Solar Breeder Project Aims to Power Half the World by 2050 Sahara Solar Breeder Project Aims to Power Half the World by 2050
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Sahara Solar Breeder Project Aims to Power Half the World by 2050

by Ben Jervey

January 20, 2011

The Sahara Desert has two things in abundance: sun and sand. What if those could both be used symbiotically to eventually provide half the world's energy?  Talk about huge ideas. A team of scientists from the University of Tokyo are teaming up with Algerian universities on this "Sahara Solar Breeder Project."

 

Not to rain on the ambition. It's a pretty remarkable idea, and it's dumbfounding that nobody has yet attempted to use desert sand as a source of silicon for PV panels. Koinuma recognizes that the challenges ahead are massive, and is focused on that essential first step: turning desert silica into silicon of high enough purity to be used in photovoltaic panels.

But if this can be accomplished, and a single solar plant can be built in the Sahara, then the process can almost certainly be scaled up. Koinuma, for one, is optimistic.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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Sahara Solar Breeder Project Aims to Power Half the World by 2050