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Deserts offer cheap source of energy

Nov 21, 2006

SAHARA sunshine could provide Europe with clean and cheap energy, according to a study for the German government.

Experts said solar energy from north Africa could help to reduce emissions from European power stations by 70 per cent by 2050 as well as providing energy at a cost equivalent to a $20 barrel of oil - about a third of the current price.

They envisage the use of concentrating solar power systems - in which mirrors focus sunlight on a boiler to create steam, which drives a turbine - and transporting the electricity on a vast network of power lines.

Creating such a grid would open up new markets for Scotland's power industry, which already produces a significant surplus. The authors of the report said deserts were a major untapped source of power.

Dr Franz Trieb, of the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Co-operation, said: "Every year, each square kilometre of desert receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Multiplying by the area of deserts worldwide, this is nearly 1,000 times the current energy consumption of the world."


Updated: 2003/07/28