Clean Power Libya

Published on June 29th, 2013 | by Amber Archangel


Libya Solar Potential 5x Larger Than Oil Reserves (Infographic)

June 29th, 2013 by  

If Libya covered just 0.1% of its land mass with solar panels, it could generate around five times the amount of energy from solar power that it currently produces in crude oil according to research published in the journal Renewable Energy.

Libya is the 16th largest country in the world in terms of land mass according to Its economy depends primarily on revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 95 percent of export earnings, about one quarter of gross domestic product, and 60 percent of public sector wages. Substantial revenues from the energy sector, combined with a small population, give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa.


Libya has the potential to become a renewable energy giant according to Responding to Climate Change. It boasts a very high daily solar radiation rate — on a flat coastal plain it is about 7.1 kilowatt hours per square metre per day (kWh/m²/day) and in the south region it is about 8.1kWh/m²/day.

If you compare the UK to Libya, Great Britain has less than half that amount at about 2.95kWh/m²/day.

Because Libya has developed its economy based on oil and natural gas, it is a struggle to change that structure. The country does not have the skilled workforce to install and maintain renewable energy systems. With the right investment and training, the country could surpass its current revenue base with clean, sustainable energy. Libya has the potential to supply all of its own electricity needs and an exportable, significant part of its neighbor’s needs from the renewable energy resources available in this oil rich country.

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About the Author

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, and constant student of many studies. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, I helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Private aviation stirs a special appeal, I would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in my yard. I am a peace-loving, courageous soul, and I am passionate about contributing to the clean energy revolution. I formerly designed and managed a clean energy website,

  • Caba Aba Baba

    meaningless because it doesn’t account for much lower labor costs involved in oil extraction

    • Bob_Wallace

      Very meaningful.

      We’re on the cusp of a largely fossil fuel free energy system for the world. It’s quite likely that demand for oil is going to start dropping in a few years.

      The Sun could provide Libya income for a few billion years.

      Labor is not a major input for solar.

      • Caba Aba Baba

        if you installed enough solar panels every 10 years to power the US it would require 40 million unskilled laborers and several million electricians

        • Bob_Wallace

          That makes no sense.

          On multiple levels.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            lets say it takes 100 hours to install a 6 kW panel. thats 120 W/hr. we need 2 TW installed capacity. that’s 30 billion hours, or 16 million full time workers. since not everyone works full time it’d be closer to 40 million.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How about sourcing your numbers for me?

            Where do you find that it takes 100 hours of labor to install 6 kW of panels?

            How do you determine that we need 2 TW of panels?

          • Caba Aba Baba

            various places. 25,000TWh consumption with 10,000 hours between panel replacements. if you have corrects id like to see them.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How do you expect someone to correct “various places”?

            Either you have a basis for making your claim or you don’t. If you do, give it.

            Then, what does this mean?

            “25,000TWh consumption with 10,000 hours between panel replacements”

            Please explain.

          • Bob_Wallace

            While waiting for you to explain your numbers I looked up some…

            In 2011 (2012 data has not yet been released) the US generated 4,093,413,000 MWh of electricity. If I converted correctly that’s 4,093.4 TWh. About one-sixth of your 25,000 number.


            OK, that’s for a year. Per day the US generated 11.2 TWh.

            Now, we’re not going to obtain all our electricity from solar. My guess is the largest percentage will come from wind since the wind blows more hours per day than the Sun shines. So I’m going to assume 30% of our total electricity from solar. YMMV.

            We’d need to generate 3.4 TWh per day from solar assuming a 30% penetration.

            Given that the US gets roughly 4.5 average solar hours per day that means we would need about 0.75 TW, 748 GW or 747,655 MW of solar panels.

            Now, I’ve never seen a number for number of hours required to install a MW of panels so I’m kind of halted at that point while I wait for you to share your “various places” links.

            But let’s carry on with the remainder of your claim.

            “10,000 hours between panel replacements”

            What does that mean? Are you claiming that solar panels fail after 10,000 hours?

            There are 8,760 hours in a year. That would mean failure after 1.1 years, which is clearly wrong. You must have meant something else.

            How about failure after 10,000 hours of operation? If we assume an average of 4.5 hours per day operation we then get 1,643 operational hours per year. That would mean that panels would have to fail after 6.1 years on average. Also clearly wrong as we have panels over 30 years old and failure rate is around 2% total for the 30 year period.

            So, looking forward to your getting back to us with some explanation of your claims. They just mystify me….

          • Caba Aba Baba

            if we use your numbers solar still requires tens of millions of workers per year. renewables will never be practical on a large scale.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Unless we have the labor requirement for solar (and you’re extending your claim to wind) we can’t make sense out of your numbers. You seem to be posting trash.

            Clearly labor costs are not extreme for either wind or solar. Were that the case then we would see those costs reflected in system prices and the LCOE.

            A new large solar array is installed in weeks. Certainly there’s nothing like your level of labor required.

            BTW, I’ve installed three solar systems. I am quite aware of the labor input. And since I did my installations the labor component has dropped immensely with new racking systems and ‘plug and play’ connections.

            My guess, and it’s a rough guess and will vary from region to region, is 30% solar, 50% wind, 20% hydro, tidal, wave, biomass/gas and geothermal.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            “Now, we’re not going to obtain all our electricity from solar. My guess is the largest percentage will come from wind since the wind blows more hours per day than the Sun shines. So I’m going to assume 30% of our total electricity from solar. YMMV.”

            i guess this saves your ass, but where is the other 70% going to come from?

          • Guest

            wind is just as labor intensive. the us utilities industries employ 500K people. wind employees 300K and solar 200K, yet they generate less than 5% of all power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            My guess, and it’s a rough guess and will vary from region to region, is 30% solar, 50% wind, 20% hydro, tidal, wave, biomass/gas and geothermal.

            ” the us utilities industries employ 500K people. wind employees 300K and solar 200K, yet they generate less than 5% of all power.”

            Think a bit. It’s not that hard.

            A number of people are at work installing wind and solar.

            By the end of 2012 they had installed enough wind, solar and other renewables to supply 5% (your claim) of our electricity.

            By the end of 2013 they will have increased that percentage.

            By the end of 2014 they will have increased that percentage.

            By the end of 2015 …..

          • Caba Aba Baba

            the admins seem to have deleted my response. i have no idea where you’re getting your numbers from, your source confirms 25KTwh consumption. also you’re assuming 100% sunlight for 30 years straight.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No one deleted your response.

            It was trapped in the Spam folder for some reason.

            I told you exactly where I got my data for the total amount of electricity generated in the US in 2011.

            Here, I’ll post the link again….

            “In 2011 (2012 data has not yet been released) the US generated 4,093,413,000 MWh of electricity. If I converted correctly that’s 4,093.4 TWh. About one-sixth of your 25,000 number.”


            I’ll even help you out. Look at Table 1.1. Net Generation. All Sources.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            net generation and total consumption are not the same thing.

            either way solar would require millions of people. it’s not a matter of population, it’s a matter of motivating people to enter the field.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Please explain how we could consume more than we generate.

            And please start backing up your claims with some links to factual sites.

            As for motivating people to take good paying jobs. That actually is not a problem.

          • Caba Aba Baba



            We’ve seen this story play out many times before. A country or region invests heavily in solar energy, and then, quickly faces a labor shortage.

            When Germany introduced a range of ambitious solar incentives a few years back, it wasn’t long before the country discovered that its green workforce was ill-equipped to match growing demand for new PV installations.

            There simply weren’t enough qualified professionals in the field.

            The same thing happened in Ontario after it passed its historic Green Energy Act. Even during a global recession, the province had a difficult time filling its rosters with knowledgeable solar experts.

            Flash forward to 2012, and the US is poised for its own solar labor shortage.

            – See more at:

          • Bob_Wallace

            Growing pains.

            Installing solar is not rocket science. We’ll increase our workforce as needed.

            Not everything will run smoothly. Hardly anything does.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            installing decent solar would require covering 1% the us land area with panels. it would be by far the largest employment sector and by far the largest engineering project in history repeated every 30 years. it’s not going to work.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, you’ve gone from being massively wrong to trolling.


          • Caba Aba Baba


            EWEA: Europe Faces Severe Shortage Of Skilled Wind Energy Workers



            The growth of the solar industry may soon face the reality of not having enough skilled workers to satisfy demand, suggests a recent report by The Solar Foundation and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Despite a dragging economy overall, installed solar capacity has increased dramatically in the past few years. In 2011 alone, the cumulative installed solar capacity in the United States nearly doubled from 2,095 MW to 3,950 MW. Should the industry continue along the base-line forecast, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts that 75% of the U.S. solar market will attain grid-parity by 2015. This could unlock even higher levels of adoption and create a real distance between the demand and supply of solar installation professionals.

            it can’t troll about something that’s already happening.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            the discussion was originally about solar but since you brought up wind


            Wind power and wind farms may not be capable of producing as much energy as previously believed, according to a paper co-authored by Harvard scientist David W. Keith.

            Keith, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, co-published the paper on Feb. 25 in the online scientific journal Environmental Research Letters with Amanda S. Adams, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

            Their study examined the long-range effects of one wind farm on another. The spacing between turbines is critical to each of their individual functioning, because a turbine placed directly behind another turbine cannot spin at full capacity and is therefore less efficient and able to put out less energy. This phenomenon is caused by the fact that in order to operate and move its blades, a wind turbine takes mechanical energy out of the wind passing through it. As a result, the speed of wind that has already passed through another turbine is lower when it hits the next in a series of the devices.

            Therefore, when a wind farm becomes large enough, according to the study, it can have a larger impact on the energy-producing capacity of surrounding wind farms. Due to these diminishing returns, Keith said future efforts to scale up the amount of wind power produced on earth will result in each new wind farm producing less power relative to its land area than previously expected.

            Keith said that past investigations into the impact of one turbine on another did not take into account large-scale decreases in wind speeds that arise from entire wind farms essentially removing energy from the wind.

            “The old-style idea was that you just add it up,” Keith said. “You calculated the wind at the turbines around the world, and you added up all those things as if they work independently.”

            But even with diminishing power output, covering vast areas of land with turbines could potentially provide for power demands in the U.S., Keith said. However, Keith warned, the large number of turbines could come with other costs and consequences.

            Keith explained that although an individual wind turbine may be efficient, turbines in large numbers are both expensive to build and relatively inefficient when functioning collectively.

            If advances cannot make turbines more cost-efficient, Keith said, a significant increase in the amount of power produced by wind will not be financially sensible.

            Beyond monetary concerns, the paper also emphasizes that the implementation of wind power on a large scale can have a significant impact on the local environment. Keith said these effects will become significant and visible “well before” wind power supplies a third of U.S. primary energy

            While Keith said he believes wind power is a good alternative to coal or petroleum, expanding wind power to the scale of either energy resource would result in changing temperatures on Earth, which could impact a myriad of issues like crop growth. Land use also becomes a serious issue as wind farms become larger leading to the a need to build access roads to the turbines, Keith said.

            Keith said that although he would not totally discourage further research into wind power, he thinks people should put less effort into its development relative to other alternative energies, such as solar and nuclear power, which have more potential to offer a sustainable solution to energy demands.

            “We have to think analytically with numbers about what the consequences are of scaling up…and realize there are some [energy sources] we wouldn’t want to scale even if we could,” Keith said.

            Keith said he thinks policymakers should take into account existing research when allocating funds for energy development in the future.

            “This is a game of moral responsibility and political decision-making,” Keith said. “This is not some kind of passive guess about what happens. We’re part of the guess. We need to make political decisions about what we want to have happen, not guess.”

            solar = impossible, already larger employment than coal and oil industry and supplies 0.1% of power

            wind = even worse

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Keith paper is a nasty piece of hype. And has been turned into even more hype by anti-wind factions.

            Wind engineers are very aware of the need to space turbines appropriately. That lesson was learned at least 30 years ago.

            Keith seems to be publishing controversial papers in an attempt to make a name for himself. He’s starting to earn a lousy reputation.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            point taken. i still would like your opinion about how much wind employment would have to grow to produce a useful amount of turbines, and state this as a share of, say, the construction industry (less than 2 million employees, not all full time).


          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t have a number for you. All I can do is to point out that all the labor involved in bringing wind energy to the grid – from mining the ores and minerals needed, to manufacturing the turbines, to installing and connecting them – is reflected in the cost of the electricity produced.

            “The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy.”



            $40/MWh means $0.04/kWh. Add back in the $0.022 PTC and it’s $0.062/kWh.

            This is a low number. It’s not just the LCOE of wind. It includes real estate, transmission, taxes and wind farm owner profits. It’s the “delivered to the door” cost of electricity, not just the generation price.

            Now, if it took “millions” of hours of labor to bring wind to the grid one wouldn’t find wind to be one of our two lowest generation technologies.

            Solar is running a bit higher, but it’s not due to labor. The labor component in a panel is minor. The cost of installing is mostly hardware, real estate, and permitting. We’ve now got robots that can do most of the installation works which will drive the labor costs down fairly quickly.

            Do we have a large job ahead of us as we transition off fossil fuels? Certainly, we do.

            But don’t forget. During the 20+ years it will take to replace fossil fuels existing coal, natural gas and nuclear plants would be wearing out and needing replacement. A sizable part of the labor that would have gone into those activities will go instead to renewables.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There will be times when demand outstrips supply and times when supply exceeds demand. That is nothing new and exists in all industries.

            A few years back there was a significant shortage of wind farm technicians and wind farms were hiring people who had completed only the first 3-4 months of their college level wind tech training.

            “installing decent solar would require covering 1% the us land area with panels. it would be by far the largest employment sector and by far the largest engineering project in history repeated every 30 years”

            You are tolling by posting false information. I’m not in a real good mood and it’s not a good time to push my buttons.

            As for renewables creating a lot of good jobs. That’s a problem?

          • Caba Aba Baba

            The decline in performance with age is considerably greater when capacity weights are used. This implies that the performance of large wind farms declines more rapidly than that of smaller ones. From age 3 onwards the confidence intervals for the two age-performance curves do not overlap, so that it is unlikely that the difference between the two curves arises merely by chance. The normalised load factor per MW of capacity falls to about 7% at age 10 and 3.5% at age 15. With such low levels of performance it seems very unlikely that large wind farms will continue in operation beyond 10 years of age, with a strong likelihood of re-powering at that point. The consequence is that large scale reliance upon wind power seems likely to involve a regular – and costly – commitment to upgrading major components of the wind turbines.


            The Performance of Wind Farms
            in the United Kingdom and
            Gordon Hughes

            Wind turbines only last about 10 years, not the 25-30 normally quoted.



            Last year the wind industry built 10,000 turbines with about 10,000 construction workers. Given these last 10 years, that implies 10 turbines/worker. Given that we need 4 million turbines for a decent infrastructure that would require 400K workers.

            There are about 700K in the nonresidential construction industry, with 400K construction workers. That would be necessary just to build turbines.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Gordon Hughes paper is a real POS and you might notice that it is published on an anti-wind site and not in a real journal.

            He claims that performance drops off over time. That’s BS.

            Here’s a plot of Danish offshore wind farms. Using the same database Hughes supposedly used for his paper.

            Do you see a fall off?

          • Bob_Wallace

            And here’s his data plotted out for the UK wind farms.

            Again, where’s the fall off?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Now, since we’re only now repowering Altamont Pass Wind Farm 30 years after it went into service how do you explain it not failing after 10 years?

            Where’s the 10 year failure in the 20 year old Danish farm? In the 15 year old Danish farm? In the 11 year old UK farms?

            Look closely at the graphs. See if you can find 10 year failure.

            What you may well find, aside from the graphs, is that some European farms are being repowered after 15 to 20 years. That is not because performance has dropped. It’s because they are somewhat space limited and newer turbines are much superior to the older models.

            They are taking down older, smaller turbines and replacing them with new, larger, taller units in order to get significantly more output from the same real estate.

            Altamont Pass is being repowered with significantly fewer turbines but the total output will be much higher.

            Those removed turbines are being refurbished and sold to countries just beginning to develop their wind industry. In those countries space is not at a premium and they can get a refurbished turbine at a much better price than a new one.

            Most likely, since those turbines have been refurbished with things such as new bearings they will perform just fine for a few decades.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            your graphs look at overall production, which appears stagnant. the graph above my quotes shows the fall over time for individual units.

            ignore his data if you want but we’re seeing it happen. the graphs you just presented show how the wind industry has already stagnated in high adoption countries.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Stagnant. Staying the same. Not falling. Not decaying to the point where they have to be replaced after ten years.

            Last time I looked at a wind farm it was made up of individual units.

            Now, if you’re claiming that some units are dropping in performance over ten years while farm performance is staying high then it must be the case that some units are increasing in performance? Somehow I don’t think that is happening.

            Or might it might be that Hughes has posted a pile of crap? And there is, in fact, no 10 year death spiral for wind turbines?

            If there is a 10 year wind turbine death spiral why isn’t it all over the web? Why are we building wind farms if they are falling apart in 10 years?

            You believe there’s a great conspiracy that involves millions of people who are keeping a secret that only Gordon Hughes has penetrated?

            Or could it be something else? For example, Hughes is simply making stuff up….

            Why do you have your bloomers in a bunch over the fact that the demand for turbines is outstripping the training of wind techs?

            As your link states wind installations are booming. There’s a need for more workers. That, IMHO, is a good thing.

            Are you simply looking for some reason to criticize wind? Criticize it for being successful? That’s rare.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            i’m criticizing their wind for the fact that they have less installed capacity now than in 1999.

            wind already failed a long time ago in high adoption countries, the only growth we’re seeing is in some countries that had a late start.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You post some of the most crazy-assed stuff I’ve seen in a long time.

            Denmark’s installed wind hasn’t grown since 1999? You didn’t pay any attention to the first graph and the wind farms that came on line post 1999?

            Wind “failed” a long time ago in high adoption countries?

            You’re simply posting absurd stuff.

            Here – I’ll give you a graph of how Denmark’s wind industry as “stalled”.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            maybe its an exaggeration to say there’s been 14 years of decline but here you go


            Note that 2002 was the last year that any substantial on-shore wind power was erected in Denmark. The small changes since then have mostly been due to replacing existing machines with larger ones.

            Off-shore, after the Horns Rev facility in 2002 and Nysted (Rødsand) in 2003, there was no development until the addition of Horns Rev II in 2009. Rødsand II (200 MW) may be completed in 2010.

          • Caba Aba Baba
          • Bob_Wallace

            What’s the point you are trying to make?

            Are you now simply slinging stuff against the wall to see if something might stick?

            Yes, they are installing less onshore wind in Denmark. That could be due to a lack of sufficient space to expand or due to some financial factor.

            Offshore is going like gang busters. Perhaps offshore is preferable?

            Does this mean that wind in Denmark has failed. Does this mean, as you earlier claimed “the wind industry has already stagnated in high adoption countries… as another example denmark and other countries’ wind production has stagnated”?

            No, it means that you are continuing to post crap.

            I’ll try to help you out here. Quit, absolutely cold-turkey-quit getting your info from anti-renewable sites. They cherry-pick and lie.

            I can’t say it any clearer than that.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            it seems like a lot of the thread disappeared or was split. anyway calling cleantechies “crap” is uncalled for.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your data is stale. I suppose if you do your shopping in the anti-wind market you should expect a bit of stale and moldy product.

            I gave you a graph earlier that shows that Danish wind is not stalled. Yes, they are installing offshore rather than onshore, but that’s going to be the case going forward for a lot of places.

            Offshore generally provides better wind, especially during the day when electricity is in higher demand. There are fewer NIMBY problems with offshore. And there’s a tremendous amount of real estate available. Look to Germany and the UK as other places where offshore will grow much faster than onshore.

            It may even happen in the US a few years from now. We’ve got excellent offshore potential and it’s much closer to our population concentrations.

            Now, how about Denmark post 2011 when my graph terminated?

            “On March 18, Dong Energy’s Anholt offshore wind farm connected its 36th Siemens 3.6 megawatt (MW) turbine to the electric grid, thereby bringing the total of Denmark’s connected offshore wind to 1 gigawatt (1,000
            megawatts). This capacity covers the equivalent of about 1 million Danish households’ electricity consumption.

            The Anholt complex itself will include 400 megawatts of capacity when completed.

            And Denmark has no plans to stop there, recently announcing that it will invite bids for an additional 1,500 MW of offshore wind.

            Denmark now gets almost 25% of its electricity from wind power, and this country of 5.5 million inhabitants is planning to double that number to 50% by 2020.”


          • Caba Aba Baba

            25% of electricty is only about 5% of total power consumption. you need something to replace all the gas and heating once fossil fuels run out. electricity is just a tiny part of the picture.

            sure they’re upgrading their windfarms so they require less construction labor per unit power, but how long can that go on? already there are blades as long as skyscrapers. the actual number of turbines installed is falling.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Please document electricity being only 5% of total energy consumption.
            Look, I’ve played around with you about as long as my patience allows.
            I can come up with no explanation other than you are trolling. Any idiot should be able to look at turbine count and the increase in capacity and realize that there is a shift to larger turbines, therefor a need for more smaller ones.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            that’s not quite what i said. as for electricity being 1/6 of total energy consumption you documented it yourself (in the eia link)

            im an idiot also but i realize that upgrading existing plants is inherently limited and the danish wind industry has effectively stagnated even if there little pips in growth here and there.

            the returns on wind power diminish exponentially with size. good luck fighting that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, what does “5% of total power consumption” mean?

            Electricity + heating oil + gas for cooking/heating/hot water?

            Clearly we can replace heating oil with geothermal and the other functions with electricity and biofuels. In the case of water heating, a large percentage can be done with solar-direct.

            How can you state that the Danish wind industry has stalled when output has been increasing?

            Electricity generated in TWh
            2009 6.72
            2010 7.81
            2011 9.77
            2012 10.27

            That is a 52.8% increase in the last three years.


            “the returns on wind power diminish exponentially with size”

            Were that true then wind farms would be installing smaller, not larger turbines. Obviously you have that backwards.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            the power of a wind turbine varies with the seventh root of height. if you don’t know this, well, read up on wind.

            as for “why?”, well, there’s your explanation. the returns trail off rapidly. building a 200km wind turbine would produce only ten times as much power as a 200m one, assuming air in space of course.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            “Were that true then wind farms would be installing smaller, not larger turbines. Obviously you have that backwards”

            either you’re deliberately trolling or you don’t understand the concept of diminishing returns.

          • Caba Aba Baba

            cant we agree on the initial point (that covering libya with thousands of sq km of panels might run into slight labor difficulties?)

            also a big chunk of the thread seems to have disappeared

          • Caba Aba Baba

            Btw the 4 million number extrapolates the current growth rate to 2030.


  • ochssocial

    Slightly off topic, has any validity been given to the negative effects of turbines on human health?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Studied. Found to be none. Issue now in the hands of those who believe vaccines cause autism and the Earth is flat.

      • ochssocial

        Thanks for the clarification, genuinely appreciated.

      • Ace Virginian

        Not true. It is just word play. Cars do not cause pollution (fuel does).

        • Bob_Wallace

          Is our children learning?

  • JamesWimberley

    ” …. and an exportable, significant part of its neighbor’s needs….”
    Libya has land borders with Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. All ot these have plenty of deserts with similar insolation to Libya’s. It is very unlikely Libya will be able to export significant amounts of solar electricity to them. Export across the immense Sahara to very poor and sunny Mali, Chad and Sudan is even less likely. The Desertec plan to export North African solar electricity to Europe is deflating – Italy and Spain have all the sun they can use.

  • Wayne Williamson

    I’d like to see the 1 square meter panel that get 700 watt hours. I think more on the order of 100 wh. Which mean increase that square to about 1 percent.

    • Ronald Brakels

      We average almost 5 kilowatt-hours a day of sunshine per square metre on an angled panel here in Adelaide and it’s clouder here than it is in Libya. Here a one metre square panel of 15% efficient solar cells wil produce an average of about 0.7 kilowatt-hours a day.

      • Barney for 07

        But on the eastern coast there been just over two weeks of bad whether no wind or sunshine, been the wettest in darkest month in a decade, with no sun shining, it’s like bloody England.

        My system only generated 1.3 kW for the 16 days. I’ve imported 600kw from the main over the two weeks to run the reverse cycle air conditioning. It’s bloody wet and miserable and cold, lucky that credits stored up are covering this 600 kW losses.

        Forecast bad weather for the next week, may have to use another 600 kW, don’t like to lose the income generated. I might get out the Honda generator, yes I know its carbon polluting, but you know, banking on saving for an overseas holiday from the solar system.

        Maybe we can convince them to give us some more feed in tariff money.

        • Ronald Brakels

          I’m in South Australia our wind turbines have been doing quite well lately during our cloudy weather, with them often suppling all the state’s grid electricity and also exporting some to Victoria. So from an environmental point of view we need to build more wind turbines in the eastern states to take up the slack when it gets cloudy as more clouds almost always means more wind. As for having to buy grid electricity when it’s cloudy, for people getting an eight cent a kilowatt-hour feed-in tariff we’re at about the point where energy storage pays for itself and zero maintenance home storage systems that pay for themselves should come on the market before long. And economising on electricity when it’s cloudy is an option. I’m wearing three layers and playing musical shutters each time the sun comes out. (Yes, my house has shutters. And yes, that’s very weird in Australia.)

        • RobS

          I might have misunderstood what you are saying in which case disregard, but are you suggesting you might use a portable petrol powered generator to save money on your power bill due to a lower then expected solar output?
          A petrol powered generator generally consumes 900mls petrol per Kwh produced, at $1.40 per litre that means you would be producing electricity at a direct fuel cost to yourself of $1.26 per Kwh, I imagine your feed in tariff is somewhat less then this so if that was your intention I’d discourage it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If you mean a 700 watt per square meter output, no, not from ‘normal’ solar panels.

      Sanyo HIT series panels generate 16.2 watts per square foot (17.4% module efficiency).

      10.76 square feet in square meter, so 174.3 watts per square meter.

      High efficiency solar cells are now around 45% efficient, so that’s closer but 700 watts per square meter is out of reach for now.

      The article says –

      “It boasts a very high daily solar radiation rate — on a flat coastal
      plain it is about 7.1 kilowatt hours per square metre per day”

      I’m not sure where your 700 watt hour issue came from. As Ronald points out it’s not hard to get 700 watt hours per day per square meter from panels. The Sanyo’s would need only 4 hours of sunshine.

      • Wayne Williamson

        Yeah, I probably should have been clearer. The article states 7.1 kilowatts per sq meter per day. I just divided by 10(ten hours of sun shine) to get the 700 watts per sq meter per hour. I probably should have divided by 6 or 7(hours of sun). Looking at Sharp 250w panel at 15% eff its around 150w per sq meter. I used 100w just roughing it.
        All that being said, I think they should go for it!

        • Bob_Wallace

          I think it makes sense for North African countries to install solar to sell to Europe. Those transmission lines will work in two directions and bring European power to NA when the Sun isn’t shining. The larger a renewable grid, the less storage and dispatchable generation needed.

          Whether it makes sense for Europe to purchase solar from NA rather than Southern Europe, I don’t know. It could be that getting a modest distance south of the Med would significantly increase the number of non-cloudy hours. Consider Antelope Valley in SoCal that averages 360 sunny days per year.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    when picturing fancy images on desert solar potential, it is good to keep in mind how high are the capital costs of HVDC transmission per 1000 km per GW. When we factor these in, we see that roof-top solar in Italy is far cheaper than Libyan solar power.

    Besides in deserts there is problem of cooling the solar panels. Too much desert heat greatly reduces the lifetime of photovoltaics.

    Domestic power production is also better for the economy than imported power. This also the real problem why we are worried on oil production. Imported oil is damaging unnecessarily our economy, so it would be good idea to find electric alternatives for oil.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” Too much desert heat greatly reduces the lifetime of photovoltaics.”


      Cost certainly comes into play. The math will be done.

    • Ronald Brakels

      We’ve had solar panels in the Australian outback for quite some time and they’e still going strong and it doesn’t get hotter in Libya. Also, all the space probes we send inside the orbit of Mercury are solar powered. Higher temperatures can and do cause increased degregation of materials, but in practice it’s not really a problem for solar cells. We know because we have solar cells that have been working for over 40 years.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        Still actual studies could be nice to have, but they are hard to find. We know that the performance of solar panels is deteriorating 0.485 % per degree of Celsius. This makes 10-20 % less efficiency on desert conditions.

        • Bob_Wallace

          That’s an output decline. Panels pump out a lot more power when cold.

          Did you compare average sunny day temperature in Libya and Greece/Italy?

          Perhaps there would be some less output on hot desert days. That would have to be part of the math which would include number of sunny hours/days, cost of labor and real estate, transmission cost, etc.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Mercury’s black body temperature is about 167 degrees celcius. The Helios probes would regularly get baked to about 370 degrees. They lasted about 9 years. More relevant to those of us on earth is the performance of solar panels in desert regions. And that’s pretty good. A 25 year warranty for panels is pretty standard anywhere in Australia, including beyond the black stump.

      • lisa

        Solar power, wind power not working in South Australia, as old coal power station back on line.

        ” decision due to low winds, some transmission outages and improved wholesale prices to bolster the electricity supply for South Australia”.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Right, because having one of the state’s two coal power plants permanently shut down and the other only operating half the time definitely means that wind and solar aren’t working in South Australia. Anyone with half a brain or less can see it’s a complete failure. Excuse me while I go cut down our wind turbines for scrap metal.

          • lisa

            Your excuse to cut down your wind turbine for scrap metal, more than happy to tender process in to the government, bringing in labor in on the 457 visas. We can put all that metal copper back in to building new cold fired power station generators.

            It a good thing that you mention this, the price of coppers up, and we can return the environment back to what was a sustainable without the visual aspects of these thing standing in the land and cutting down the endanger birds as they flyby .

  • Bob_Wallace


    That 1.4 million barrels of oil per day? Only a fifth or so is going to get turned into kinetic energy. The rest will be wasted by inefficient internal combustion engines.

    Not 5x, 25x.

    • Phil.Wentworth

      Yes but it’s the same with all energy including solar power only about 10% of the sunlight can be used. Converting that dc energy to ac energy into a inverter there is losses, transmission line loss in energy also.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Inverter loss is in the low single digits as is transmission loss.

        Electric motors are over 90% efficient.

        Want to quibble and make it 24x? 22.5x?

        Point is, ICEs are very inefficient. A direct comparison of usable energy in a barrel of oil to electricity doesn’t make sense.

        Then if we were to add in the energy it would take to turn that barrel of oil into something useful the 25x zooms higher.

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