Desert - Solar Energy Resources

Solar Energy Resources

Deserts are increasingly seen as sources for solar energy, partly due to lower cloud cover.

Many successful solar power plants have been built in the Mojave Desert. These plants have a combined capacity of 354 megawatts (MW) making them the largest solar power installation in the world. Large swaths of the desert are covered in mirrors (used for solar energy), including nine fields of solar collectors. The Mojave Solar Park is currently under construction and will produce 280MW when completed.

The potential of generating solar energy from the Sahara desert is immense. Professor David Faiman of Ben-Gurion University has stated that the technology now exists to supply all of the world's electricity needs with 10% of the Sahara desert. Desertec Industrial Initiative is a consortium seeking $560 billion investment in North African solar and wind installations over the next 40 years to supply electricity to Europe via cable lines running under the Mediterranean Sea. European interest in the Sahara desert stems from its two aspects: amount of sunshine and empty space. The Sahara receives more sunshine per are than the sunniest of regions in Europe. The Sahara desert also has the empty space required to house fields of mirrors for solar plants, totalling hundreds of square miles.

The Negev Desert, Israel, and the surrounding area, including the Arava Valley, receive plenty of sunshine and are generally not arable. This has resulted in the construction of many solar plants. David Faiman has proposed that "giant" solar plants in the Negev could supply all of Israel's electricity.

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