Solar Could Produce 5X More Energy Than Oil In Libya

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Libya exports close to $12 billion a year in petroleum products and they are seventy percent of its total exports. This north african nation also has an estimated 48 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves. In other words, oil is a critical part of the national economy there, and has been for years.

Image credit: Roberdan, Wiki commons

Recent research has indicated the solar potential is even greater than the petroleum productivity. If Libya used just 0.1% of its landmass for solar power, it could generate the equivalent of seven million barrels of oil per day, which would be about five times the 1.4 million barrels it currently produces. Some critics of solar power say it takes up took much land, but Libya has a great deal of open space (desert) and only about six million people. So there is plenty of land available for solar power installations.

What makes solar power even more attractive in Libya is the high levels of daily solar radiation. On a coastal plane, that rate is  7.1 kilowatt hours per square metre per day, and in a southern area it is 8.1. The average solar radiation rate in the UK is less than half of that.

There is enough daily sunlight the researchers speculated that it is possible Libya could become an exporter of solar power to African and European nations. Wind power also has good potential there, so they could become clean energy independent at some point, but oil and natural gas are currently so much a part of their economy and culture, such a shifty probably will not happen soon.  Still, the new Libyan government has shown at least some interest in clean energy development, said one of the researchers. Funding could come from oil and gas exports.

The fact so much solar and wind power potential is being left on the table, seems to go almost completely unrecognized. If millions of barrels of oil were being spilled in desert lands every day, it would seem like a catastrophe of biblical proportions, but vast quantities of sunlight are not used for solar power every day around the world.


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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter:

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8 thoughts on “Solar Could Produce 5X More Energy Than Oil In Libya

  • Exporter to African countries? Can’t they have their own solar power.

    • Trading electricity east and west along the top of North Africa, even though other nations will have their own solar capacity, makes sense and can take advantage of different sunrise and sunset times and different peak demand times. Sending electricity south is much less likely to happen.

      • Good point. Should have thought of that.

    • Missed the point. It’s a matter of using it RATHER than storing it. Sure, it can be stored , BUT that is MORE expensive at the moment. That’s why it’s more profitable , at the moment, to sell it off, when there’s an excess.

  • Too bad the solar isn’t liquid fuel or petrochemicals to grow food….liquid fuels are the issue.


  • Now you know what the Libyan war and the killing of Gaddafi was about — what you don’t know is why the US invested 1 billion dollars in the war versus France’s 300 million…

    Well, since it’s clear that the energy would go to Europe or Africa, there must have been another motive for the US tenants of power:

    Most likely, the Big-Oil-dominated US government got out of his way to prevent the forthcoming absolutely huge mass-production of solar PV cells — fearing that with the consequent price collapse for PV panels, Eurpeans and Africans, and later on US citizens in turn, would be able to buy PV panels at incredibly low prices just in the department store round the corner — thus threatening to become energetically autonomous, i. e. independent from the fuel and electricity supply networks at the outlets of which Big Oil keeps us hostages.

    Sorry, Muhammar, you were in the way of Big Oil not for your oil, but for your PV resources… not that you dismissed PV, but you were too closely, and since too long ago, associated with Germany within their DESERTEC project…

    And now you, dear readers, may know why the Germans didn’t participate in the raid… and why they are the most advanced in solar PV… and why Mercedes is the most advanced in hydrogen fuel cells for motorcars…

    • Well said.

  • It is hard to see how Libya could export solar electricity, because Italy is also strong producer of solar electricity. The largest cost issue with solar is not the generation cost but transmission costs. Therefore solar works only at roof-tops, where the production of solar happens at the same place as the consumption of electricity.

    Libya should invest heavily on industry and then export manufactured electricity intensive goods such as aluminium into world markets.

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