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Subject: The Colossal African Solar Farm that could power Europe rss

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Steven Woodcock
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Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...
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Steven Woodcock
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Koldfoot wrote:
Mirrors in the desert.

I wonder about sand storms scratching up the surfaces over time.


I wondered about that myself.


Ferret
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Steve
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Ferretman wrote:
Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...

One of the dumbest ideas I've seen in some time.

What are they going to do? String big electric cables from huge towers out over the Strait at Gibraltar?

And, how are they going to protect the towers and cables from Islamic terrorists or the Gov. of the Muslim nations the cables will have too be run through?

 
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Steven Woodcock
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Steve1501 wrote:
Ferretman wrote:
Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...

One of the dumbest ideas I've seen in some time.

What are they going to do? String big electric cables from huge towers out over the Strait at Gibraltar?


I think that they're thinking exactly something along those lines.

Steve1501 wrote:

And, how are they going to protect the towers and cables from Islamic terrorists or the Gov. of the Muslim nations the cables will have too be run through?


Beats me.

I first ran across this idea as a "Great Mega Project" around 50 years ago. I think the environment hasn't gotten any more friendly when it comes to blowing things up since then.


Ferret
 
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Andy Leighton
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Steve1501 wrote:
Ferretman wrote:
Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...

One of the dumbest ideas I've seen in some time.

What are they going to do? String big electric cables from huge towers out over the Strait at Gibraltar?

And, how are they going to protect the towers and cables from Islamic terrorists or the Gov. of the Muslim nations the cables will have too be run through?


It is a tiny gap really. It is a solved technology - undersea cables work extremely well - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_power_cable
 
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J.D. Hall
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Steve1501 wrote:
Ferretman wrote:
Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...

One of the dumbest ideas I've seen in some time.

What are they going to do? String big electric cables from huge towers out over the Strait at Gibraltar?

And, how are they going to protect the towers and cables from Islamic terrorists or the Gov. of the Muslim nations the cables will have too be run through?


Underwater cables (see above). They did it back in the 19th Century with a transatlantic telegraph cable, so the gap between Spain and Morocco is nothing.

As for protecting them: probably they'll do the same thing they do for oil fields, oil refineries, oil transport, etc. They have a lot of experience dealing with bomb-wearing crazies.

We've got a lot of worthless desert in the US -- think Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and west Texas. Should be able to do the same thing there.
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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galad2003 wrote:
I always felt the answer to this is just put solar panels on everyone's house and you buy the energy difference from power companies. Once we get to where most houses have their own solar panels we can look into massive solar farms like this that would make up the difference.
Possibly, but as far as wattage per square foot, you are probably going to get a much better efficiency return on Desert mega-plants. Unfortunately, transmission loss over hundreds of kilometers of power cables may negate a good percentage of the efficiency benefit.
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Steve1501 wrote:
Ferretman wrote:
Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...

One of the dumbest ideas I've seen in some time.

What are they going to do? String big electric cables from huge towers out over the Strait at Gibraltar?

There has been talk of building a tunnel for at least 20 years. The main reason it hasn't been built is that Spain and Morocco are both too poor to afford it. If there was another big economic interest to fund the tunnel it is well within the capabilities of current technology. The distance between Spain and Morocco is quite a bit less than between England and France where the Chunnel was built.
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Jon M
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galad2003 wrote:
I always felt the answer to this is just put solar panels on everyone's house and you buy the energy difference from power companies. Once we get to where most houses have their own solar panels we can look into massive solar farms like this that would make up the difference.


You want to know why this hasn't happened? - its too expensive. Solar panels are very costly. These large solar plants are about reducing the cost per MWh by vastly increasing the scale.

The interconnector is clearly trivial technologically since the UK has interconnectors with France and the Netherlands and is constructing one with Norway 720 km away.
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galad2003 wrote:
Yea well I also feel the cost would dramatically come down and the technology would vastly improve once we start mass building these things on people's houses.
It is important to note that these are two different technologies. Home panels are photovoltaic, while the desert farms typically use mirrors to concentrate the energy on a heat conductive liquid that then boils water, creates steam and drives turbines. While I agree that getting photovoltaics down in cost is something we should be working towards, it can happen in conjunction with solar steam plants.
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Shawn Fox
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Jon_1066 wrote:
The interconnector is clearly trivial technologically since the UK has interconnectors with France and the Netherlands and is constructing one with Norway 720 km away.



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Jon M
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sfox wrote:
Jon_1066 wrote:
The interconnector is clearly trivial technologically since the UK has interconnectors with France and the Netherlands and is constructing one with Norway 720 km away.





Not saying it is simple - just that it has been technologically solved. The engineers know exactly what to do and how it works. The technical challenges have been sorted.

For the giant molten salt mirror turbine thing - not so much.
 
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Andy Leighton
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Jon_1066 wrote:
The interconnector is clearly trivial technologically since the UK has interconnectors with France and the Netherlands and is constructing one with Norway 720 km away.

We are also planning to build one with Iceland too and that is around 1000km.

In fact looking at my previous wikipedia link there are already 2 undersea cables between Spain and Morocco (both 400kV AC). Adding another cable either AC or HVDC isn't going to be a problem.
 
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Steve1501 wrote:
Ferretman wrote:
Neat snapshot of some of the solar developments:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa...

One of the dumbest ideas I've seen in some time.

What are they going to do? String big electric cables from huge towers out over the Strait at Gibraltar?


We already have power cables under the English Channel. And transoceanic data cables. Plus we transmit power over comparable distances. So while engineering is always a hard task, this shouldn't bean insoluble engineering problem. If it were the only problem, full speed ahead.

Quote:
And, how are they going to protect the towers and cables from Islamic terrorists or the Gov. of the Muslim nations the cables will have too be run through?


Typical to blame it all on the Muslims. Terrorism is not the bogeyman that prevents anything. How many pieces of major infrastructure have been destroyed? You can start with destroyed data cables. And engineering involves avoiding single points of failure.

But the broader question of political stability is a real one. A large part of that is a legacy of colonialism rather than Islam. Of course it might help there. But I wouldn't invest.
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galad2003 wrote:


Yea well I also feel the cost would dramatically come down and the technology would vastly improve once we start mass building these things on people's houses.


Solar panels are already relatively inexpensive. The problem is the cost of power storage.
 
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galad2003 wrote:

Personally, I think if you believe OMFG the Earth is dying due to global warming the cost shouldn't matter.

Solar panels are standard here and so for me it's not really an issue but I'd point out that one can accept the empirically verified reality of climate change without doing a chicken little impression.
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Why isn't this being used to power Africa?
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galad2003 wrote:


I just feel free strongly that solar panels on individuals homes is the best way forward so I take every opportunity I can to talk it up.


I have mine!
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Ben Foy
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andyholt wrote:
galad2003 wrote:


Yea well I also feel the cost would dramatically come down and the technology would vastly improve once we start mass building these things on people's houses.


Solar panels are already relatively inexpensive. The problem is the cost of power storage.


Not a problem here. Our meters run in reverse. I would like a small battery as a backup.
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galad2003 wrote:
I always felt the answer to this is just put solar panels on everyone's house and you buy the energy difference from power companies. Once we get to where most houses have their own solar panels we can look into massive solar farms like this that would make up the difference.

Australia is heading that way. South Australia is pretty close to 100% rooftop solar now.
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galad2003 wrote:
Yea well I also feel the cost would dramatically come down and the technology would vastly improve once we start mass building these things on people's houses.

I think the biggest draw back would be this would effectively put utility companies out of business so they fight this tooth and nail

Nah, utility companies end up existing to smooth out the flow, being willing to buy your excess power and sell it to someone else, so you aren't dependent on extremely-expensive-and-shortlived battery storage systems.

In southern Arizona and northern Sonora, the local utilities increasingly offer property owners a deal like this: we build the panels on your property, and we own and administer and repair them, and in return for them being our property rather than your property, you get a permanently lower and flat-rate-fixed utility bill.

Gives the utilities the economic incentive to spread the tech rather than fight it, and effectively preserves the utility monopoly across the local grid. Without the local grid, maintained by taxes and government-law fees, nobody can reasonably "sell" any of their excess power to anyone else, so everything gets quickly steered back to the utility one way or the other.
 
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Andy Leighton
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GuidoVanHorn wrote:
Why isn't this being used to power Africa?


Most of Africa is much further away from that bit of Morocco than Europe. For example it is over 3000km to Dakar in Senegal (it is only 30km to Spain). Also most of Africa hasn't got a well developed national power grid to feed into. I am sure that Morocco will be using some of the power for its own cities and towns.
 
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Another cool thing: distributed grid of solar-charged batteries forming a virtual power plant.

http://reneweconomy.com.au/worlds-largest-virtual-power-plan...
 
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