If you haven’t heard about this project yet, it is a HUGE, renewable energy project with a ton of cool features. The Sahara Solar Breeder Project is its name, though it has also been referred to as the Super Apollo Project by the project leader.
To start with, it will build a silicon manufacturing plant in the desert, a good location for such a plant. Using that silicon locally (rather than just shipping it around the world), solar power plants will be constructed nearby as well. Then, some of the electricity generated from those will be used to construct more silicon manufacturing plants. Sounds like a solar energy empire in the making.
You are probably wondering at this point which country the people doing all this are coming from. It is a joint project between universities in Algeria and Japan, and Hideomi Koinuma of the University of Tokyo is leading the project.
“The energy generated by the solar power plants will be distributed as direct current via high-temperature superconductors, a process that Koinuma said will be more efficient than using alternating current,” Lin Edwards of PhysOrg writes. “He envisages a large network of supercooled high-voltage direct current grids capable of transporting the expected 100 GW of electricity at least 500 kilometers.”
Sahara Solar Breeder Project Initial Goals
Initial project goals are to establish project viability, overcome some clear obstacles (i.e. “frequent sandstorms, the need to use liquid nitrogen to cool cables and to bury them in the sand to minimize fluctuations in temperature”), and train African engineers and scientists in research and development regarding this process.
Of course, it will not be completely easy for the researchers to achieve their technological goals. DigInfo TV writes:
“In this initial project, it will be important to demonstrate the possibility of manufacturing high-purity silicon from desert sand and constructing a high-temperature superconducting, long-distance, DC power supply system.”
Cost of the Sahara Solar Breeder Project
“The total research expenditure will be 100 million yen annually for five years, but that won’t be enough to complete the project,” Koinuma said (in the video above). “Nevertheless, we want to establish basic technology for providing an ultimate solution to the energy problem, which must be done before a global crisis occurs.”
As mentioned in the title, the long-term goal is to power half the world by 2050. That is quite an aim, much more than DESERTEC’s aim to power 15% of Europe by 2050.
Image Credit: screenshot of video above