BERLIN, (Reuters) – A 400-billion euro ($554 billion) project linking solar power produced in the Sahara to energy users in Europe and North Africa is a ‘win-win’ for both continents and could also promote integration around the Mediterranean, a German minister said.
Guenter Gloser, deputy foreign minister, told Reuters 20 gigawatts of concentrated solar power (CSP)—the equivalent of 20 large conventional power plants—could be harvested each year by 2020 if the project called Desertec got off the ground.
About 2 billion people in developing countries worldwide lack electricity, which in turn impacts the health, ecology and safety of rural households. Many are forced to rely on inefficient and environmentally damaging kerosene lamps.
Developing nations alone burn 470 million barrels of oil and release about 400 billion pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a result of using kerosene. Other sources of light fuel include cow dung, precious forest firewood or crop residue.
But in a massive new study carried out in Gujarat, one of Western India’s poorest states, hit hard by drought in recent years, researchers have proposed that solar photovoltaic lanterns could represent a solution for rural communities with insufficient lighting.
This is particularly true in India, where the average number of sunny days ranges from 250 to 300 per year, generating a solar energy equivalent greater than the country’s total energy consumption. With India’s large and growing population, solar lanterns, using the country’s abundant sunlight, could be the cleanest and most practical energy alternative available.