Saharan Solar Power

One of the coolest visions for solar energy we’ve ever seen comes from the “Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation” website ( They want to build an ultra high-efficiency DC (direct current) power grid across the deserts of the middle east and africa upwards throughout Europe including offshore windfarms. Here’s the heart of their plan, taken from their concept page (

Trans-Mediterranian Energy Cooperation U.K.

“Satellite-based studies by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have shown that, using less than 0.3% of the entire desert areas of the MENA region, Solar Thermal Power Plants can generate enough electricity to supply current demands in EU-MENA, and anticipated increases in those demands in the future. In addition, it has potential to alleviate shortages of fresh water in the MENA regions. The trade winds of southern Morocco may be harnessed to generate additional supplies of electricity. Clean electricity can be transmitted via High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines throughout EU-MENA with overall transmission losses that would be no more than 10-15%.”

What the TREC folks are referring to with the term “EU-MENA” is the regions of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The idea that the Saharan sunlight can power all of Europe is only half the story. This power can also be used to pump water from the Ubangi river in the north of the Congo basin northwards over (or through) the hills into the Lake Chad basin. New forests can grow in lands watered by pumps powered by the sun. And Lake Chad, like the Aral Sea (also ref. “Artic to Aral”), will be refilled.

TREC advocates solar thermal power, quite rightly pointing out that thermal energy can be stored in fluids and released 24 hours per day, not just when the sun is shining. But advances in photovoltaic energy may yield arrays consuming about half the space of solar thermal installations with lower costs for installation and maintenance. There are hybrid designs using photovoltaic thermal collectors that can achieve even higher efficiencies of cost and output per square foot.

It is in their faith in the eventual abundance of clean electric power, combined with their call for a revolutionary high-power DC transmission line (read that could use and reinforce existing grids, that makes the TREC folks inspiring visionaries. What a great project, and how else to power the world if you really want to lose the gas?

5 Responses to “Saharan Solar Power”
  1. There’s alsoa TREC-Australia website and a company, Acquasol, that plans to use CSP to power desalination — see .

  2. Jay Draiman says:


    In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy Sources must change.
    “Energy drives our entire economy.” We must protect it. “Let’s face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy.” The American way of life is not negotiable.
    Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

    The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, retrofits etc. The source of energy must be by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, Ocean-Tidal, Hydrogen-Fuel Cell etc. This includes the utilizing of water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products and energy efficiency should be reduced or eliminated)

    The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

    In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

    A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).

    This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors’ commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting, water conservation) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

    “To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”

    Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
    Northridge, CA. 91325
    Feb. 17, 2007

  3. Well, anybody got a DC frig. This plan has a couple of economic flaws, including nobody could plug into it, at least in the US. I am doing offgrid homes and almost all the circuits are through the inverter to AC. Just a couple DC lights.
    Secondly, did the electric world somehow resolve the Tesla AC/DC conundrom where you can not use large scale transformers on DC power?

  4. Homeowners can cut energy bills by making their houses more energy-efficient R2
    HOMEOWNERS can practically hear the meters ticking as their air conditioners fight this summer’s sweltering heat.
    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things they can do to ward off high energy bills now–and once winter sweeps in.
    Just ask THE ENERGY EXPERT, who conducts residential energy audits as National Energy Efficiency Auditor.
    “The most common problem is air infiltration,” he said, “where unconditioned air meets conditioned air.”
    THE ENERGY EXPERT, who uses smoke pencils to detect leaks and infrared scans to check insulation, windows, attics and roofs, said poorly insulated “room additions” over garages top the list of energy wasters.
    “Builders don’t always sheathe the back side of the drywall in insulation, so hot attic air infiltrates the room,” he said. “There’s only one piece of drywall keeping the hot air out.”
    THE ENERGY Experts’ solution is to install energy-efficient foam board with an aluminum-foil backing behind the drywall. A recent job cost about $300 and or insulation and attic fans in the attic – there is also a rebate and tax credits (check with your local utility). (Insulation in the attic and attic fans reduce energy consumption substantially).
    “It pays for itself in one season,” THE ENERGY EXPERT said.
    Homeowners typically spend about $1,600 a year to heat and cool the house, turn lights on and off, and operate appliances, said spokeswoman for the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy.
    But they can cut those expenses by as much as $600 by switching to more energy-efficient products and taking a variety of other energy-saving steps.
    Those can be as simple as replacing a 15- to 20-year-old refrigerator with a new Energy Star model, which uses about a fourth as much electricity as an older appliance, and/or putting compact florescent bulbs or LED bulbs in at least the five most commonly used light fixtures in the house. You should also replace burned out motors/compressors with energy efficient multi-stage motors.
    “Compact fluorescents cost more up front, but you really make it up because they use somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the energy required for an incandescent and they last 10 times longer,” the Energy Expert said. “Plus, they don’t burn as hot, so they don’t heat up the place during the summer and your air conditioner has to work less hard.”
    A good place for homeowners to start in determining how their energy usage stacks up is to log on to the Home Energy Saver at
    Developed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, this site calculates energy use and savings tips based on information that users provide. Type in a ZIP code and up pop the energy costs of an average home and an energy-efficient home for that area.
    The program also includes a questionnaire that asks for more detailed information so it can provide a customized answer. It also has links to sites that provide a wealth of information about its energy-saving recommendations.
    On various utility companies Web sites, shoppers can order a similarly helpful gizmo called Watts Up? Plug in any standard 120-volt appliance or electronic device, and it will analyze such things as current draw, incoming voltage and cost of operation. The Watts Up? Basic model costs $89.95 and the pro version costs $123.95.
    Rather leave audits to professionals?
    Some auditors offer a standard audit for $100 that includes a visual inspection of the house and its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. An expanded audit, which costs $200, includes tests to check for leaks in air ducts and the house’s air-tightness.
    Your local utility company may do audits, also has a list of providers on its Web site.
    Low-income homeowners can get help for free through the Aging weatherization assistance program.
    “We go into the house and do various tests to find problem areas,” said the Energy Consultant. “What we do in most cases is make minor repairs and blow in insulation.”
    Last fiscal year, many families got help through the federally funded program.
    Sometimes, however, the most effective ways to trim energy usage are the easiest, the Energy Expert said.
    Putting up weather-stripping, for example, is something anyone can do yet many people overlook, he said. The same goes for changing a heating system’s air filters on a regular basis or a set-back thermostat.
    The Energy Expert also recommended installing ceiling fans and programmable electronic thermostats. A fan can make a room feel cooler so the air conditioning can be turned up, and a programmable thermostat automatically lowers the heat setting while homeowners are at work and raises it just before they return.
    The Energy Expert has also learned that putting the screens/shades on the south-facing windows of the house in the summer will help block out some of the sun’s fierce heat. In some states especially the western parts of the United States temperature at night falls to 50-60 degrees – open the windows and shut the air-condition and or utilize a fan to bring in the fresh cooler air – it is also healthier and reduces indoor pollution. In areas of the country that have a high humidity – you can install a dehumidifier in the summer to reduce energy cost and a humidifier in the winter.
    “I take the screens and or shades off in the winter,” The Energy Expert said.
    Increasing a house’s energy efficiency not only lowers the owner’s bills, it also raises the value of the property. According to an EPA-funded study done in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, a house’s value jumps $10 to $25 for every $1 the owner is able to save on annual fuel/energy bills. You can also utilize rainwater and grey water to reduce your water and sewer bill. Some utility companies will allow you to install a sub-meter for the water used for landscaping, swimming pools and ponds – which eliminates the sewer charge from that portion of your water bill.
    “You’ll get a better price because you can show them your heating and cooling bills, which are reasonable and not outrageous,” said The Energy Expert, national energy-management coordinator.
    The Energy Expert oversees many Energy Saver Home programs, which inspects houses as they’re being built to insure they’re properly insulated and sealed. The inspections cost $250 and come with a year-long warranty. For an added service The Energy Expert will perform a site inspection for the installation of Solar/Photovoltaic system for the home and/or business and its benefits, costs, rebates, tax credits, financing and ROI.
    Prospective buyers of energy-efficient houses can get a break, too.
    “Some mortgage companies will allow you a better debt-to-income ratio,” The Energy Expert said. “They know your electric/gas utility bills will be less so you’ll have more income to put toward your mortgage.”
    YJ Draiman – Energy Savers 6/29/2007 –


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.