Saharan sun could power EU supergrid, say scientists

Vast farms of solar panels in the Sahara desert could provide clean electricity for the whole of Europe, the Guardian reported EU scientists as saying.

The €45 billion (almost US$71 billion) supergrid would allow countries across Europe to share electricity from clean sources, such as wind power in the UK and Denmark and geothermal energy from Iceland and Italy.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum, Arnulf Jaeger-Walden, from the European commission’s Institute for Energy, explained how electricity produced in north African solar farms could be fed thousands of kilometres across European countries using high-voltage direct current transmission lines, which lose far less energy over long distances than the traditional alternating current lines.

"Assuming it’s cost-effective, a large scale renewable energy grid is just the kind of innovation we need if we’re going to beat climate change," the Guardian quoted Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, as saying. "Europe needs to become a zero-carbon society as soon as possible, and that will only happen with bold new ideas like this one. Tinkering with 20th-century technologies like coal and nuclear simply isn’t going to get us there."

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