by John Brian Shannon
Saudi Arabia Appears to be Leading the Charge!
It’s an exciting time in Saudi Arabia (of all places!) for those of us hopeful for an integrated Green/Conventional electrical energy grid. Saudi Aramco and Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, in partnership with the Saudi Electricity Company, have just completed construction of a 500 kilowatt working solar power plant in the desert Kingdom.
Rather than burn 28,000 barrels of diesel per year at the Farasan Island facility to produce electricity – the Saudi’s have decided to let our Sun do the work. This project is merely one of many such solar projects that the Saudi government has already approved.
It says something about the future of solar energy when the largest petroleum producer on the planet has a program to switch to solar power to produce its electricity needs!
Back in 1990, the U.S. Department of Energy released a study which proved that if only 5% of the Sahara Desert was covered with solar panels, it could power the entire planet’s electrical energy needs.
They further projected that by 2020 solar technology would improve to the point that only 2.5% of the Sahara’s surface would be required to power the entire planet’s electricity requirements.
This information caused a small revolution in the thinking at D.O.E. Suddenly, solar appeared on the horizon as a realistic electrical energy source.
However, even in the Sahara, the Sun stops shining at night – therefore there will always be a place for conventional power to cover for night-time electrical needs.
But even so, running daytime solar plants would cut electrical power generation pollution levels dramatically for many countries.
For Saudi Arabia — enough solar power panels could be produced and installed to cover all the daytime electricity needs of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, U.A.E., Oman, plus Yemen.
For Europe — even with existing technology, comparatively small areas of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia could easily power ALL of Europe – if major solar players like the U.S., Germany and Japan combined forces to build and operate solar electrical grids in those countries.
All that is required is political stability in those three countries – and the necessary political decisions to make it happen.