Home Solar Power Guide Understanding the benefits of harnessing concentrated solar power in the deserts

Understanding the benefits of harnessing concentrated solar power in the deserts

by DrPrem Jagyasi

Sunshine is an abundant source of clean energy, which can undeniably power the entire world without causing any toxic emissions. Researchers too state that the energy beamed down from the heavens onto earth in just an hour, if harvested, can be used to power the entire world for an entire year. Quite obviously, we cannot cover every square inch of the planet with solar panels, but yes, we can still power the world with renewable solar energy, if governments encourage development of solar power plants. Although sunshine is available in all parts of the world, a few places just seem ideal for large-scale concentrated solar installations. Yes, we are talking about deserts and here are a few reasons why desert solar installations are simply ideal.

  • Affordable Land:

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Concentrated solar power plants require large amounts of land, which is not getting any cheaper in the urban parts of the world. However, when we consider deserts, there is abundant land, most of which is uninhabitable and hence, available at a cheaper price for utility companies. Moreover, since there is negligible human population who can call deserts there home there will not be any relocation, which isn’t exactly people friendly.

  • Ample sunshine:

Mountains solar power

Whenever one pictures a desert, one thinks about sand dunes and scorching sunlight. These conditions make deserts uninhabitable, unless you are a brave soul who can live without water and fresh food for months at a stretch. However, the same conditions are perfectly suited for concentrated solar installations, as all they require is solar heat. Although sunshine too can be used to generate large quantities of energy using photovoltaic panels, desert’s aren’t particularly suited for PV energy generation because photovoltaic panels tend to get clumsy as they get hot and they need water for regular cleaning and cooling, which is something that isn’t available in the deserts. Concentrated solar power, on the other hand, uses that killing heat to heat up salts and then uses this thermal energy to generate steam and hence, drive electricity-producing turbines.

  • Availability of advanced technology:

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Advocates of other forms of renewable energy generation have often criticized solar energy for being too climate-dependent. We agree that since solar energy is largely dependent on sunshine, it cannot produce any energy during overcast conditions and after sunset. However, like always, technology has us covered in this too. Recently available technology has made it possible for concentrated solar plants to store thermal energy in the form of molten salts. This thermal energy can be used after sunset or during overcast conditions (which are not a common sight in the desert landscape) to produce electricity.

  • Creation of jobs in rural areas:

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A side benefit of installing large-scale solar power plants in deserts is the creation of jobs for people who are largely unemployed. People living in such arid and rural regions of the world normally do not have any employment opportunities and hence have to toil hard just to make their two ends meet. Solar power plant installations will create enough jobs for people living in such regions and hence, help them rejoice the benefits of employment.