Wind and solar power stations in the Sahara will help improve the climate of the desert
Source: Image: Jgremillot
The Sahara Desert is one of the most unfavorable places to live on Earth. Severe conditions can withstand only a few living creatures, including humans. But prosperity is not the question here, but rather we are talking about survival. Nevertheless, the winds in the Sahara are strong enough, not to mention the level of insolation. According to some scientists, the region’s climate features make it possible to deploy a large number of power plants in the desert, the basis of which is wind and sun.
And the more they will be, the more favorable climatic conditions can be (of course, first of all, for humans). It is about increasing the amount of precipitation and reducing the temperature extremes of the region. If you start to develop the Sahara from the point of view of energy, then from 2050 it will give about 50% of the energy that the population of the Earth will need at this time.
The fact that the Sahara can become an “energy treasure trove” for humanity is said not for the first year. But, as it turned out, the extraction of energy will be accompanied by other benefits, including climate mitigation. Scientists at the University of Illinois, USA, have created a model for the development of the Sahara, which makes it possible to speak about quite extensive possibilities of the desert. The results of the work of specialists were published in the latest issue of Science.
The university team has developed a climate model taking into account temperature, precipitation and biomass production. The model covers a region of 9 million square kilometers. This is only 0.1% of the total desert area. The main role in this model is assigned to solar and wind power plants.
According to scientists, if power stations are located on this area, they will produce about four times more electricity than humanity needed in 2017. As mentioned above, the university experts believe that the region will become more favorable for living - temperature fluctuations are leveled, more precipitation will fall out, which will allow farmers to increase biomass production.
“The results of our experiments confirm the assumption that with an increase in wind and solar power stations in the Sahara, the climatic conditions of the region will improve. In addition to energy production, the desert will be able to produce agricultural products, however, in the event that you install equipment on a fairly extensive area. Thus, alternative energy can have an unexpected favorable effect, ”the project developers comment on their model.
Wind power stations, provided they have a sufficiently large number, will be able to change the usual paths of atmospheric masses. Solar farms, at the same time, will make the region more humid due to lower surface albedo. As a result, the amount of precipitation in the Sahara can be doubled, which will help to improve plant growth and the overall increase in biomass.
Unfortunately, the model of scientists did not provide for “testing for practicality”, but is only an ideal situation. How much production and placement of equipment will cost in 0.1% of the Sahara's area and what economic effect this may give is not yet known. Nevertheless, it is possible to calculate all this, and then it will be clear whether the model is real or pure science fiction.
Whatever it was, but many would like to return the Sahara to the past, figuratively speaking, when it was green and had a large number of water sources.