The power of the desert

The desert. That arid and hostile place where it’s really difficult to find human life, apart from some nomads tribes (like the Bereber in Morocco) and some other lost adventurer (like myself). Feared by many, loved by others, the desert hides an incredible beauty within its never ending dunes. That’s undeniable. Now, some people are arguing that the desert could be more than a beautiful picture in a poster – it could be the key to something really precious: clean and cheap energy.

It is a fact that non-renewable energies won’t last forever. It is true as well that, in recent times, there’s been an explosion of renewable energies, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermic…… These energies also have some disadvantages compared to fuel, like intermittence and high set up costs.

Let’s take solar energy for example. The main criticism to this energy type is the conditions required to make it work, such as long sun hours and the need for a lack of clouds. Hey, I think that’s the definition of any desert on Earth!

In six daylight hours, Earth’s deserts soak up more energy than humanity uses in a year.

Sounds really impressive, eh? Imagine for a moment that a quarter of that energy could be collected somehow. In fact, there is a group of people who aren’t imagining this but trying to implement it as a sustainable idea: Desertec.

Desertec would involve hundreds of square miles of wind and solar plants in the world’s deserts, connected to electrical grids to deliver reliable, renewable, and affordable power to more sun-challenged regions. Planners are hoping to get solar power flowing from North Africa to Europe first. An estimated 1,300 square miles of North African desert could handle 20 percent of Europe’s energy needs by 2050. Ninety percent of the world’s population lives within 1,800 miles of a desert. China’s cities could be powered by the Gobi; South America could run lines from the Atacama. Where there’s light, there’s hope.

Also, some other ideas from this organisations are, for example, constructing a massive hydroelectric power plant in Gibraltar to collect the energy between the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean. Personally, I think that this project would be much more difficult that the solar panels in the world deserts. Also, the environmental impact would need to be discussed, among the visual and fauna and flora perturbation.

At QCS UK, we are working on developing freight services for renewable energies. It would be really exciting for us to help with your project, whether of this kind or something even more creative! Working together to potentially create large amounts of clean energy to power our world.