Solar panels in Sahara could boost renewable energy but damage the global climate – here’s why

Zhengyao Lu, Lund University and Benjamin Smith, Western Sydney University

The world’s most forbidding deserts could be the best places on Earth for harvesting solar power – the most abundant and clean source of energy we have. Deserts are spacious, relatively flat, rich in silicon – the raw material for the semiconductors from which solar cells are made — and never short of sunlight. In fact, the ten largest solar plants around the world are all located in deserts or dry regions.

Researchers imagine it might be possible to transform the world’s largest desert, the Sahara, into a giant solar farm, capable of meeting four times the world’s current energy demand. Blueprints have been drawn up for projects in Tunisia and Morocco that would supply electricity for millions of households in Europe.

While the black surfaces of solar panels absorb most of the sunlight that reaches them, only a fraction (around 15%) of that incoming energy gets converted to electricity. The rest is returned to the environment as heat. The panels are usually much darker than the ground they cover, so a vast expanse of solar cells will absorb a lot of additional energy and emit it as heat, affecting the climate.

If these effects were only local, they might not matter in a sparsely populated and barren desert. But the scale of the installations that would be needed to make a dent in the world’s fossil energy demand would be vast, covering thousands of square kilometres. Heat re-emitted from an area this size will be redistributed by the flow of air in the atmosphere, having regional and even global effects on the climate.

A satellite view of four different solar farms in deserts.
Clockwise from top left: Bhadla solar park, India; Desert Sublight solar farm, US; Hainanzhou solar park, China and Ouarzazate solar park, Morocco. Google Earth, Author provided

A greener Sahara

A 2018 study used a climate model to simulate the effects of lower albedo on the land surface of deserts caused by installing massive solar farms. Albedo is a measure of how well surfaces reflect sunlight. Sand, for example, is much more reflective than a solar panel and so has a higher albedo.

The model revealed that when the size of the solar farm reaches 20% of the total area of the Sahara, it triggers a feedback loop. Heat emitted by the darker solar panels (compared to the highly reflective desert soil) creates a steep temperature difference between the land and the surrounding oceans that ultimately lowers surface air pressure and causes moist air to rise and condense into raindrops. With more monsoon rainfall, plants grow and the desert reflects less of the sun’s energy, since vegetation absorbs light better than sand and soil. With more plants present, more water is evaporated, creating a more humid environment that causes vegetation to spread.


Read more: Should we turn the Sahara Desert into a huge solar farm?


This scenario might seem fanciful, but studies suggest that a similar feedback loop kept much of the Sahara green during the African Humid Period, which only ended 5,000 years ago.

So, a giant solar farm could generate ample energy to meet global demand and simultaneously turn one of the most hostile environments on Earth into a habitable oasis. Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite. In a recent study, we used an advanced Earth system model to closely examine how Saharan solar farms interact with the climate. Our model takes into account the complex feedbacks between the interacting spheres of the world’s climate – the atmosphere, the ocean and the land and its ecosystems. It showed there could be unintended effects in remote parts of the land and ocean that offset any regional benefits over the Sahara itself.

Drought in the Amazon, cyclones in Vietnam

Covering 20% of the Sahara with solar farms raises local temperatures in the desert by 1.5°C according to our model. At 50% coverage, the temperature increase is 2.5°C. This warming is eventually spread around the globe by atmosphere and ocean movement, raising the world’s average temperature by 0.16°C for 20% coverage, and 0.39°C for 50% coverage. The global temperature shift is not uniform though – the polar regions would warm more than the tropics, increasing sea ice loss in the Arctic. This could further accelerate warming, as melting sea ice exposes dark water which absorbs much more solar energy.

This massive new heat source in the Sahara reorganises global air and ocean circulation, affecting precipitation patterns around the world. The narrow band of heavy rainfall in the tropics, which accounts for more than 30% of global precipitation and supports the rainforests of the Amazon and Congo Basin, shifts northward in our simulations. For the Amazon region, this causes droughts as less moisture arrives from the ocean. Roughly the same amount of additional rainfall that falls over the Sahara due to the surface-darkening effects of solar panels is lost from the Amazon. The model also predicts more frequent tropical cyclones hitting North American and East Asian coasts.

Four maps depicting regional climate changes under different Sahara solar farm scenarios.
Global temperature, rainfall and surface wind changes in simulations with 20% and 50% solar panel coverage of Sahara. Lu et al. (2021), Author provided

Some important processes are still missing from our model, such as dust blown from large deserts. Saharan dust, carried on the wind, is a vital source of nutrients for the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean. So a greener Sahara could have an even bigger global effect than our simulations suggested.

We are only beginning to understand the potential consequences of establishing massive solar farms in the world’s deserts. Solutions like this may help society transition from fossil energy, but Earth system studies like ours underscore the importance of considering the numerous coupled responses of the atmosphere, oceans and land surface when examining their benefits and risks.

Zhengyao Lu, Researcher in Physical Geography, Lund University and Benjamin Smith, Director of Research, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

HT/Michael D

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lee
February 22, 2021 10:19 pm

Is the sand abrasive? What damage to the solar cells? What replacement time?

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  lee
February 23, 2021 12:27 am

They will be sanded to a matt finish, enveloped by rolling waves of sand, and be eroded terribly.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 6:29 am

Dust accumulation on PV modules (“soiling”) is a big problem in Africa & the Mid. East. The dust can have high sticking coefficients and without local water sources cleaning isn’t practical. If the dust coverage isn’t uniform, hot spots caused by localized shading can develop which usually lead to power degradation over time. And yes, wind-borne dust does etch the front cover glass as well as the rear side plastic encapsulation.

Thomas
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
February 23, 2021 11:33 am

Someone installed solar panels on streetlight poles in and around Baghdad. When I saw them in 2012, they each had a neat pile of sand on top, rendering them useless.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Thomas
February 23, 2021 12:45 pm

This certainly squares with what I know, it is a lot more than just the typical 10 or 20% soiling power loss.

Reply to  Thomas
February 28, 2021 8:05 am

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
I love it!

Ed MacAulay
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 11:06 am

Well no, they just need to develop a latex like spray to cover and seal all the dust and sand in so it doesn’t debrade the panels.
Maybe a cheap thin layer of a pavement like material over the whole Sahara, and if it is white, it could reflect enough light to compensate for the heat from the solar panels.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  lee
February 23, 2021 5:56 am

Far more than blowing sand, the Sahara has dust. Dust coats surfaces and prevents sunlight from reaching the ground in the first place. The area over the Sahara actually emits more energy into space than it receives from the sun, and dust is one reason why. It not only blocks incoming radiation which heats the atmosphere during the day instead of the surface, it emits radiation far more rapidly than gases do, so when your atmosphere is filled with emissive particles (CO2 included), cooling occurs rapidly when the sun goes down.

https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/clim/22/19/2009jcli2847.1.xml?tab_body=fulltext-display

It’s amazing how the pseudoscientists claim that CO2 “traps” radiation, but solid particles fail at doing so.

Last edited 7 days ago by Robert W Turner
Bryan A
Reply to  Robert W Turner
February 23, 2021 11:56 am

No one pays attention to the great solar power testbed for dust effects…Mars
The rovers began experiencing dust accumulation induced power drop off after a matter of months and only picked up once dusted by the occasional dust devil

pulsar
Reply to  Bryan A
February 25, 2021 10:26 pm

No one pays attention to the great solar power testbed for dust effects…Mars
The rovers began experiencing dust accumulation induced power drop off after a matter of months and only picked up once dusted by the occasional dust devil”
And yet, it is also a testament on how well solar power can keep a robot, good for only 90 days, to run for over 14 years.
A lot of people here are against solar power. I am an AGW skeptic, but I also am for all types of alternative energy sources. Solar power isn’t bad. It has it niche and it has saved lives in our country, the Philippines, after super typhoons have devastated power lines here. While true that dusts is the devil that plagues solar panels in deserts, a country like the Philippines has a good mixed of sunshine and rain that keeps solar panels clean and working.

Tom
Reply to  lee
February 23, 2021 6:03 am

If this is true for the Sahara, on a massive scale, wouldn’t it also be true of solar panels in a more distributed arrangement? Obviously the effect would depend on the contrast between the environment surrounding individual panel installations and that of the Sahara desert. To get the same electrical energy in a non desert location, the area covered by the panels might need to be much larger.

It would seem to me that the result would be similar. Solar panels are most effective Where the sun shines. That seems like mostly deserts, to me. It would take a lot of panels in a rain forest to generate the same amount of electrical energy as the Sahara desert, and that would likely be extremely disruptive.

David A
Reply to  Tom
February 24, 2021 5:20 am

Yes, perhaps, but what they are talking about is massively more then all solar thus far.

I question other parts of the post;
“This could further accelerate warming, as melting sea ice exposes dark water which absorbs much more solar energy.”

Solar energy in polar regions is sparse, and very reflected due to the incidence angle. Also it is in the poleward regions that the oceans release the most heat to the atmosphere. In the poleward regions the oceans are often considerably warmer than the atmosphere for 24 hours a day.

Last edited 6 days ago by David A
MarkW
Reply to  David A
February 24, 2021 8:46 am

Basically, loss of sea ice is a negative feedback for global temperatures, not a positive one.
Air temperature in the region may go up as the air comes in contact with water that is warmer than the ice was. However that heat is quickly radiated to space, very little of it moves out of the arctic.

Reply to  lee
February 23, 2021 10:10 am

No solar panels on Perservernce….those cumbersome things replaced by Plutonium Power, baby. One of the Mars rovers was losing most solar power from dust accumulation and a dust devil restored it to full power.

Henry
February 22, 2021 10:34 pm

Monsoon like the first half of the Holocene the rain might clean the panels pity they only last 20 years

Phillip Bratby
February 22, 2021 10:37 pm

Solar power: The most abundant and clean source of energy we have. There is nothing clean about solar power.

S. K.
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
February 23, 2021 10:10 am

It is abundant but only nature captures it in an environmentally and economically viable way.

gbaikie
February 22, 2021 10:45 pm

Well, can all these solar panels, make other solar panels?

beng135
Reply to  gbaikie
February 23, 2021 10:28 am

Perhaps, but they’d have to get along.

Bryan A
Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2021 12:01 pm

They would also need to mine the Coal necessary to turn the sand to silicon. Those Solar Panels are going to be BUSY

Megs
Reply to  gbaikie
February 24, 2021 10:52 pm

The short answer is no gbaikie.

I try, but I rarely do short answers.

Part time power simply won’t cut it. Just one of the three processes requiring heat needs to be held at an approximate temperature of 1100C for five days. Coal is most commonly used in furnaces for the heat source.

They don’t use sand to make panels, it’s too fine and not pure enough. They mine quartz for the silica content. Metallurgical coal, charcoal and hardwood chips are the other main ‘ingredients’. Half of the original ‘ingredients’ are lost when cutting the wafers.

Some of the manufacturers are sourcing their hardwood from the rainforests in Brazil and Indonesia. A number of countries across the globe are shipping hardwood and coal to other locations, towards manufacture of solar panels. That’s just for the silicon wafers!

The link below is awesome, I recommend that you open the PDF for ease of reading. It’s only a few pages, but it has some excellent reference links too.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335083312_Why_do_we_burn_coal_and_trees_to_make_solar_panels

We are fighting a 400MW solar project that will see nearly 18 square kilometres of quality agricultural land fenced off, just for one project, many are in the pipeline. Two thirds of it will be covered in panels, batteries will take up some of the remaining property. Most of the property will be laser bulldozed destroying every blade of grass, shrub, random trees and any small native animal that cannot escape. But then, they do need to save the environment don’t they.

This is just the beginning for our beautiful country region. We are a part of the new Renewable Energy Zone, many projects of this size are planned for each region. Ours is the first of 12 planned for our state of NSW here in Australia.

Our small town will be dwarfed by this infrastructure. And no one has considered that all of this infrastructure will need to be duplicated before the end of life of the proposed renewables for uninterrupted supply of power. On top of all that they will need to find a way to dispose of the infrastructure they remove.

What a waste of raw materials, valuable land, and money. All for part time energy.

They have already rolled out large numbers of wind and solar projects and it’s destroying community relationships. Resentment is rising against the landowners selling out our country. The profits are predominantly going overseas.

Not suitable for the desert, or anywhere else either.

Flight Level
February 22, 2021 10:49 pm

Planet and climate have nothing to do with the main postulate.
Last time I checked, solar panels don’t grow spontaneously in deserts. They all come from somewhere with pricetags.
Their installation, maintenance, renewal are not a spontaneous processes either, they come indeed with a plurality of pricetags.

The only spontaneous event in the process being the appearance of free money to turn each and every pricetag into profit.

Edward Hanley
February 22, 2021 11:07 pm

The takeaway from the article: The Sahara should be left alone as a dead, lifeless, 3.552 million mi² area of the planet. Rain = bad. Plants = bad. Even though plants are a CARBON SINK, if you think that matters. They produce OXYGEN, if you think that matters. As if the residents of the Sahel area which might suddenly turn green wouldn’t know anything about FARMING, if you think that matters.) Oh, but the insanity really starts to show when the authors say, “Saharan dust, carried on the wind, is a vital source of nutrients for the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean. So a greener Sahara could have an even bigger global effect than our simulations suggested.” So, we let the Saharan residents continue to starve, instead of bringing them saving rain and energy, so that we can Save The Rain Forests!, and grow more krill in the Atlantic Ocean so we can Save The Whales! These are the academics who are molding the minds and the emotions of our children. God help us.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Edward Hanley
February 23, 2021 12:01 am

Whoosh … missed every point entirely. What we don’t need are a collection of wild eyed scientists dying to Geo-engineer the Sahara as an experiment, all because of a massive fraud convincing people we must abandon the world’s best source of energy immediately. To do it as some type of fix-me-up gardening project for people still living in the Sahel, while risking the entire world’s ecosystem is ridiculous.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Edward Hanley
February 23, 2021 6:02 am

Ironically I agree, but only about the God help us part, the rest of your post elucidated that need.

Reply to  Edward Hanley
February 23, 2021 7:51 am

Sam Kinison – OF COURSE THEY’RE STARVING! THEY LIVE IN A F&(*&()& DESERT!

MarkW
Reply to  Edward Hanley
February 23, 2021 9:07 am

The point of the article, which you completely missed, was that covering the Sahara with solar panels would have wide reaching climatic consequences, most of which we do not have the computing power to understand beforehand.

BTW, though they are using climate models, and most of us know the many problems with them, I love the irony of using these models against the alarmists.

Loydo
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 11:40 am

“wide reaching climatic consequences, most of which we do not have the computing power to understand beforehand.”

Mmm, the irony.

fred250
Reply to  Loydo
February 23, 2021 1:13 pm

Yet another TOTALLY MEANINGLESS post from Loy-dodo. !

Pertaining to nothing !

A “why bother” post. !

MarkW
Reply to  fred250
February 23, 2021 1:53 pm

You notice that all Loydo is capable of doing any more is to post whining responses to people who have embarrassed her in the past.

MarkW
Reply to  Loydo
February 23, 2021 1:52 pm

No irony here.
We know that there are no consequences from more CO2 in the atmosphere.
We know this for two reasons.
CO2 has been 10 to 20 times higher in the past, and nothing bad happened.
It’s been much warmer multiple times over the last 10,000 years, and nothing bad happened.

Open your mind to science Loydo, perhaps you’ll stop making yourself like an idiot.

gbaikie
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 3:35 pm

“The point of the article, which you completely missed, was that covering the Sahara with solar panels would have wide reaching climatic consequences, most of which we do not have the computing power to understand beforehand.”

Well that was the point. So would thousands of square km of solar panels in Sahara desert warm the world?
It seems to me, it would be like a urban heat island effect.
Do UHI effects warm the world. Nope.
But if measuring the desert’s temperature prior to adding solar panels, the solar panels would indicate a higher average temperature in the very small region. And most of warming which be in the night time part of daily average temperature. Or deserts tend to have a cold night, you cause more warmer nights in the desert. And warmer nights in desert would cause more heat loss at night. And the warmer night time temperature would cause say region say 5 times larger than just the area where solar panels were. Or cause say 4 times more cooling {radiant loss during the night than otherwise without solar panels].

Or Sahara desert is where a lot of Earth energy is lost, and the urban heat island effect would make Sahara desert lose more heat than it already does.

It seems if add forest [or add water to desert] one get more global warming as compared to adding dry solar panels. Though one might adding water to region if one is adding solar panels. You might want wash the dust off panel from the dust storms and/or have other kinds of water usage.

MarkW
Reply to  gbaikie
February 24, 2021 8:48 am

No, the point was not that all these solar panels would warm the world.
The point was that all these solar panels have the potential to change the world’s atmospheric circulation patterns.

gbaikie
Reply to  MarkW
February 24, 2021 11:39 am

Yes, UHI effect can alter weather. We can’t predict weather.
Maybe the only value of connected to wasting time building huge amount solar panels in a desert, is it might increase chance of being able to better predict the weather.

I think making a forest in desert, is better idea. And if large enough forest it will effect weather and could slightly increase global temperatures.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Edward Hanley
February 23, 2021 10:19 am

The Sahara isn’t dead or lifeless. It has a unique ecology that isn’t particularly hospitable to humans, but that doesn’t mean we should bulldoze it over. It seems to me that nuclear power has a much smaller footprint and can still provide all the power that people are demanding. There’s no going back to the “good old days” before electricity without obliterating billions of people.

pulsar
Reply to  Edward Hanley
February 25, 2021 10:41 pm

@Edward Hanley
I agree with you here. They are committing the same mistake as the AGW alarmists are doing. Taking a model with self-assumed variables and think that it will predict the future is unscientific. Models are well and good for what-if scenarios as a training tool but should always be taken with a grain of salt and not be published as if it is what will happen.
Also, you are correct that weighing one effect as bad because it is expected to make one part of the world drier while making another part wetter is also crazy. Climate = change, it always was, is and will be. All we should do is adapt to changing climate. Even if no humans exists, climate will change. And so that is why plants and animals have developed ways of adapting.
I was surprised that you got so many dislike.

Rory Forbes
February 22, 2021 11:52 pm

So …. just as I thought, fossil fuels until methane calthrates become practical alternatives for use in hydrogen fuel cells and then nuclear. Except for limited, local usage, toss solar and wind altogether. They’re an eyesore and impractical.

Carl Friis-Hansen
February 23, 2021 12:09 am

Energy transport vs Resources
How much more (or less) cobber, aluminum, steel, concrete and electronics is needed for the treelike electricity transport system on a global scale?
A wild guess from me, would suggest 10 times what is used today in electricity transport.

Generating equipment vs Resources
Two thirds of the silicon wafers production is coal (just saying to have fun with Greens).
How much more (or less) material and production facility is used per energy-yield-years compare to classic thermal generators and installation to the grid?
My wild guess: 5 to 20 times more, depending on resource cost for maintenance of the solar farms, which at this time is difficult to know for certain.

Security and Independence
Such a solar system would almost certainly demand Klaus Schwab Great Reset and Global Government to be fulfilled first. – Why?
As it was and still is, there are often disagreement between nationions and regions and even small to full blown wars wars. This in turn has the potential to disrupt supply, infra structure and make outrageous costs.
To be honest, a Reset/Global-government will make it worse. History from DDR and USSR will tell about started and soon after abandoned projects and infra structure. It is a responsibility and insentient issue.

Daily and Weekly Storage
Even if the Sahara world solar supply may not supply 100% of energy use, you will need some storage. It is _very_ complicated and resource demanding to accumulate and release electricity, which ever way you do it.
You have to “average” the production over the day-night to a very large extend.

Land Use and Preservation
How much do we want to extend our impact on landscape and nature?
As mentioned in the article, landscape changes mostly have local climatic effect and on this scale, even a possible global effect.
It is an eye-saw and likely detrimental to wild and human life with the industrialization of the landscapes.

Better solutions over the past 150 years
The historic and logic development has been to make energy production more and more efficient, thus using smaller footprint, resources and labor.
On the very top is nuclear and on the very button are solar and wind.
Why on Earth would we go backwards? Is ideology really so important, that is must be pushed over the most basic sanity?

Bryan A
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
February 23, 2021 12:09 pm

We are the BORG Climate Trendy, you will be assimilated converted, resistance is futile

Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 12:26 am

creates a steep temperature difference between the land and the surrounding oceans that ultimately lowers surface air pressure and causes moist air to rise and condense into raindrops”

And there isnt a big difference between 45C to 50 C sand and the 15 C to 22 C of the med today?

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 6:07 am

That’s what I was thinking while reading the study. While I agree that we shouldn’t blanket regions of the Earth with solar panels, it’s funny to see what conclusions based on pseudoscience come up with.

This is another example of how greenhouse gas backradiation hypothesis is pseudoscientist, the tail is wagging the dog yet again. It’s surface albedo that causes the desert to exist, and the reason for the high pressure dome over the Sahara, right, not the general circulation of the atmosphere.

OweninGA
Reply to  Robert W Turner
February 24, 2021 5:19 am

I thought the desert exists because the Hadley Cell down-welling is at that latitude and that is what causes the high pressure over The Sahara.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 12:29 pm

We’ve already done the experiment in Phoenix Arizona. Hundreds of square miles of concrete and asphalt creates a huge low albedo heat sink in the desert. Gets really hot in day summer, and stays hot through the night.
The precipitation and monsoons haven’t changed. And Certainly hasn’t increased.
The only “greening” going on there is from pumped water from the Colorado and pumped ground water.

MarkW
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 23, 2021 1:54 pm

How far is the nearest ocean from Pheonix?

Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 12:30 am

At about 3C of warming, such as during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, the Sahara was green.

CO2 also makes plants more drought resistant.

Just put the carbon back in the air where it used tobe! Butn the fossil fuels, get CO2 to 1000 ppm!

Why cant anyone state the plain and simple facts about this? Why is everyone scared of the truth?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 23, 2021 9:39 am

Why is everyone scared of the truth?

Because the MSM has convinced much of the public of the ‘dangers’ of CO2.

This blog is unique. I get the impression that, at least among the commenters, there is an unusually high percentage of retired engineers, geologists, and life scientists. The level of education is probably two or three sigma above the mean of the general population. We were taught to think for ourselves, and not just accept what ‘journalists’ spoon feed us.

Lrp
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 10:34 am

I noticed a high degree of alarmism in people under forty

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Lrp
February 23, 2021 4:10 pm

They are victims of the education system.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 3:29 pm

Call those “journalists” propagandists for the demrat party….they vote for and agree with demrats while pretending slightly to be independent. Every day a certain page I visit that purports to be news starts with a negative Trump story…not even a mention of Joey the Dictator’s Orders. The internal war continues…..

Perry
February 23, 2021 12:38 am

What would be the diameter of the copper cables distributing all this daylight generated electricity world wide & how many cables would be required? What about magnetic fields? https://elek.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Magnetic-Fields-from-High-Voltage-Power-Cables.pdf

Migrating birds would be confused & ocean life would not benefit either, but being politically “Green” is not about caring for the environment. It’s about elites controlling the mass of humanity through fear & regulations. Personal freedom is the courage to accept the consequences of one’s thoughts, words & actions. Freedom & accountability are the two sides of the same coin.

Freedom without responsibility brings chaos & destruction. Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry their own weight, for them, responsibility is a frightening prospect. If a person doesn’t want to take responsibility, they lose their personal freedom & become irretrievably entangled in totalitarian wokism.

FlaDiver
Reply to  Perry
February 23, 2021 5:00 am

HVDC transmission would take care of the magnetic fields.
https://www.powermag.com/benefits-of-high-voltage-direct-current-transmission-systems/
It’s all the other environmental issues with photovoltaic panels that concerns me.

MarkW
Reply to  FlaDiver
February 23, 2021 9:11 am

If the electrons are moving, then a magnetic field is being generated.
The only difference between AC and DC is that under AC, the field is constantly reversing, and under DC the field is constant.

It seems to me that a DC field would actually be worse for those animals that navigate using magnetic fields.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 10:07 am

It seems to me that a DC field would actually be worse for those animals that navigate using magnetic fields.

Probably. It would be a constant error source versus a varying one.

MarkW
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
February 23, 2021 11:17 am

The error would vary at 50 to 60 Hz. Too fast for the animal to react to.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 1:57 pm

The magnetic field would fluctuate with the load the circuit was feeding

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 3:59 pm

Too fast to mechanically react to but likely perceptible. I don’t know how that feeds into the rest of their brain. If it’s at all like our inner ear it could really mess them up.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  FlaDiver
February 23, 2021 9:57 am

Your first sentence is wrong. Any time electrons are moving, they generate a magnetic field. With a constant current flow, the magnetic field will be static. However, when the current fluctuates, the magnetic field will also fluctuate. That is true of direct current as well as alternating current. Inasmuch as life has evolved with slowly changing magnetic fields, rather than 50 or 60 Hz fields, I suspect that DC would be more problematic for migrating birds than AC fields.

It might be possible to shield the HVDC cables by cladding with something like HiMu 80, high magnetic-permeability alloy. However, that would add significantly to the weight and cost of the cables.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 10:06 am

A steel shell would be fine. Even just a plate on top should act as a sufficient keeper.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
February 23, 2021 1:47 pm

You come to that conclusion without even knowing the amperage of the cable? Regular steel will experience saturation at high field strengths, which is why nickle-iron alloys were created specifically for shielding.

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 2:06 pm

Any shielding ground would have to envelope the wire completely. Any high voltage cable will fail if the ground is concentrated at one spot. Core flex high voltage cable is electrically shielded but not magnetically. They can’t be run over a inductive surface as it might cause fires due to the eddy currents induced

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Matthew Bergin
February 23, 2021 4:08 pm

Magnetic shielding, not electric. And we don’t really care if the field penetrates the ground if we’re trying to protect birds.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 4:03 pm

I didn’t realize that we were living in a 2D world and couldn’t distribute the flux over thickness. Thankfully here in the 3D world that isn’t the case. Mu metal was created because of its high permeability. We don’t require perfect shielding (it doesn’t exist without perfect superconductors anyway), just enough to accelerate the 1/r^2 losses. A steel box or even a steel keeper plate would do that nicely, even if it were to saturate.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
February 23, 2021 4:19 pm

Got sloppy. 1/r since we’re talking about effectively an infinite conductor and not a dipole.

Old planning engineer
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
February 24, 2021 12:14 am

You forgot that in a HVDC transmission line there are two currents, one in each direction. Magnetic fields at a reasonable distance from the two lines are not a problem.

MarkW
Reply to  Old planning engineer
February 24, 2021 8:49 am

Same mechanism exists with AC.

David A
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 24, 2021 5:38 am

I always had the impression that DC lost more power over distance, vs AC which enabled transmission.

Is this false?

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  David A
February 24, 2021 7:51 am

It depends — losses due to wiring go as the square of the current times the resistance. This means that for equal amounts of power transferred, the line with the lowest voltage loses the most. “HVDC” means high-voltage DC transmission, so these are trying to minimize resistance losses, at the expense of two AC-DC and DC-AC conversions at the ends.

MarkW
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
February 24, 2021 8:52 am

High Voltage AC would have the same feature.
AC losses power because the alternating current tends to produce eddy currents in anything metal that is near the transmission cables. These eddy currents end up draining power away from what is being transmitted.

pulsar
Reply to  Perry
February 25, 2021 10:59 pm

Migrating birds would be confused “
An experiment with glasses that when worn shifts objects a bit to the left of the wearer. So he misses when he tries to reach out for things. But in as few as 10 or 15 minutes, the brain adjusts to correct for the shift of vision and it comes about magically as in one instant you are missing your targets and the next everything is back to normal again. The reverse happens when you take off the glasses and everything shifts now to the right.

So, you think that nature won’t learn to adjust to a different magnetic field over a small area of the world?

Brendan Mallon
February 23, 2021 12:38 am

One of the takeaways from Planet of the Humans was that panels are made from silica, not silicon, no?

Megs
Reply to  Brendan Mallon
February 26, 2021 6:28 pm
David Hood
February 23, 2021 12:41 am

And once again the old adage of “The road to hell is….” seems so appropriate.

Crowcatcher
February 23, 2021 12:50 am

This article fell apart as soon as they mentioned “model”!

Michael in Dublin
February 23, 2021 1:14 am

My eyes roll when I see the source of an article is “The Conversation” which I would not even classify as a third rate scientific source. Why would any credible scientist want to publish anything in this rag?

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
February 23, 2021 4:29 am

Funding?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
February 23, 2021 10:01 am

And to pad their curricula vitae. Publish or perish! I see more poor quality science in The Conversation than anywhere else. Not only is it not a peer-reviewed journal, they have announced that they will delete anything they disagree with, thus insuring no substantive peer review!

Eric Vieira
February 23, 2021 1:25 am

The deserts are rich in silicon… Very unpure stuff. The silicon source for panels is ground quartz, with all the energy needed to process it.

Gary Ashe
Reply to  Eric Vieira
February 23, 2021 3:43 am

And coal Eric.

MarkW
Reply to  Eric Vieira
February 23, 2021 9:14 am

There aren’t very many factories that can convert that “sand” into solar panels located in the Sahara.
The most intelligent course of action is to continue to use the resources that are closest to the factory. Not the resources that are closest to where the output of the factory is going to be used.

Ron Long
February 23, 2021 1:48 am

There are two problems with very long electricity transmission lines, and from the Sahara to Europe would be quite a long ways. The first is the generation of excess heat, called the Joule Effect, by the electricity flowing along transmission lines. The second is loss of electricity, estimated at 8 to 15 % for a “normal” length power generating station to consumer. This whole scheme looks like a high School research paper that got a “D”, so it will probably be attempted as part of the AOC “Green New Deal”.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Ron Long
February 23, 2021 7:16 am

Ron,

You missed a third problem. Such transmission lines from the Sahara to Europe would also likely become terrorist targets.

Old planning engineer
Reply to  Ron Long
February 24, 2021 12:19 am

HVDC lines up to 1200 km do not have much of a problem with losses. Crossing the med would require underwater cabling, expensive but probably doable. A better question would be about the lack of diversity between generation sources.

Peta of Newark
February 23, 2021 2:49 am

So many wrongs, so much carp.

Show me pictures….
Just literally now upon reading this, circa 10:00 GMT, it is bright & sunny outside.
I have some solar panels. They came from my experiments in a Cumbrian Field when I still owned one, to actually check the hype surrounding the things.

So, I put a large~ish (100Watt) panel, just like the ones in the picture, flat on the ground facing straight up.

Gets my solar power meter.
It says 410Watts per sqm coming perpendicular down from Sol & Sky
Holds power meter about 18″ above solar panel but facing straight down.
Meter reads 91 Watts per sqm

Thus, I’d guess Albedo = 0.22

But panel would be converting 15% of 410 Watts into elektrickery
Thus panel is effectively radiating an extra 61.5 Watts giving 152.5Watts in toto

Thus a working panel would be presenting an albedo of [152.5 divided by 410] = 0.37

Strangely enough, almost exactly that of the green grass my lawn is made of= 0.36 as measured at the same time same place same sun same everything, where I’ve just ran this test.
(I really am rather intrigued by that result)

For these muppets it really does become hideous.
Because, I might take upon myself to add some fertiliser to my lawn, esp Nitrogen fert, and in a matter of days it would be a very noticeable darker shade of green.

Yet my solar meter ## would tell me the albedo had gone up, from 0.36 to circa 0.43 or 0.44

Just watch their heads explode. And your own of course when they demand another squillion buckeroos for Further Research.

## In fact, that is the entire reason I came to own a solar power meter. I read about the albedo increase in crops that ‘seemed’ darker and simply couldn’t believe.
Show me pictures, or, it didn’t happen….

Lastly for now:
I really am sorry boys & girls, it is far too late to fix the Sahara with just Water and Magical Thinking emanating from today’s God Oracle = The Super Computer.
Chicken entrails would give a much better prediction, as so reliably used by the ancients that created The Saha…

Oh never mind – simply too heartbreaking, esp for poor ol’ put-upon Ma Nature.

She won’t ‘Get Mad‘ though, she’ll simply and ever so elegantly: ‘Get Even‘.
Muppets everywhere, beware.
There maybe is A Monster just over the hill, except its not the one you think it is.

Somebody should never have cut the trees and then grazed and over grazed the resultant grasslands

Last edited 7 days ago by Peta of Newark
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 23, 2021 10:08 am

Peta
Plants look green because they absorb blue and red light. The spectral sensitivity of your meter may explain your anomalous readings. Also, the healthier a plant is, the stronger the red fluorescence line. There may even be things going on at the spectral-line resolution level that affect your readings.

mike macray
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 1, 2021 12:22 pm

Lovely stuff Peta of Newark!
Fair bit of mental gymnastics to follow the logic but well worth the effort..!
Being a student of Juju (West African) and Dhawa (East African) magic, in my experience both are still way ahead of the Super Computer when it comes to prognostication. My preference is for goat entrails over chicken viscera but that’s opinion, not ‘settled science’ if you get my drift.
Keep up the good work,
Cheers
Mike

Ben Vorlich
February 23, 2021 2:53 am

Even in the Sahara useful daylight is only for part of the day. Say 10 hours in winter. It leaves the problem of storing enough energy to power Europe and Africa at night.

I’m not sure that I’d want my electricity supply to come from a country religiously and politically opposed to mine and to pass through several countries that may well decide that their need is greater than mine.

It was Arab oil embargoes that persuaded France to go nuclear

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
February 23, 2021 3:20 am

Just some little discussions about what ever, and snip, power off.
Just what we need 😀

griff
February 23, 2021 3:17 am

Area of Sahara is 3.629 million sq miles… 20% of that is 725,000 sq miles… I find ‘we’d need about 13,600,000 acres or 21,250 square miles of solar panels to meet the total electricity requirements of the United States for a year.’.

This is just nonsense, right? Nobody is going to get anywhere near 20% the Sahara covered with solar, are they?

MarkW
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2021 9:17 am

Nobody ever thought we would be stupid enough to replace safe, cheap and reliable fossil fuel power plants with expensive and unreliable wind and solar plants either.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2021 10:32 am

Wrong, that would only provide the current total electricity requirements for a year during the day. So right off the bat, we would need an equivalent amount of storage for night time use, especially as more and more electricity use is being shunted to “off-peak” hours to smooth out the demand curve. Even assuming we could build such a storage system. Then of course, we would need twice as many solar panels so that we could recharge the storage systems during the day while still powering the grid. This doesn’t even account for some extra in case of emergencies, etc., so say twice as much storage (one full day) and three times as many solar panels. This all assumes no transmission losses and perfect conversion to/from storage, which won’t be the case. Then there’s the issue of constantly growing demand…

MarkW
Reply to  Paul Penrose
February 23, 2021 11:21 am

Plus the degrading performance of both the batteries and the panels over time.

Megs
Reply to  MarkW
February 26, 2021 6:43 pm

MarkW people often don’t consider that all of this infrastructure needs to been duplicated before existing renewables reach end of life to ensure continued power supply. Such as it is.

So the amount of land already taken up will need to be doubled.

Gary Ashe
February 23, 2021 3:19 am

So many things wrong with this article it is hard to know where to start, the obvious is the statement global climate as there is no such thing.

And one of the many others is the albedo thing, it isn’t that that is the important thing here, it is emissivity of the surfaces that is, try walking on that sand in bare feet, the surfaces being shaded by the kilometres of eyesores will stay far cooler than they would without the eyesores shading them and the eyesores above will be cooler than the surroundings despite their colour.

There is no difference here than between covering a sqm of desert floor with silver spanners and a sqm with black spanners, the silver spanners will get considerably warmer than the black ones next to them…

Last edited 7 days ago by Gary Ashe
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gary Ashe
February 23, 2021 10:15 am

Gary
Have you actually performed the experiment? What is important is the emissivity at IR wavelengths, which is what the spanners would be radiating. While the spanners may appear quite different in visible light, I suspect the emissivity in the IR will be very similar. On the other hand, the black spanners will be absorbing strongly in the visible light wavelengths, which is where the peak output of the sun is.

Rudi
February 23, 2021 3:33 am

These models are as unreliable as any other climate model. They are fun to play with for the researches and it gives them a living. Not much more than that.

fretslider
February 23, 2021 3:51 am

“Our model takes into account the complex feedbacks between the interacting spheres of the world’s climate”

No, their model makes a lot of guesstimates and [wholly erroneous] assumptions about the interacting spheres of the world’s climate. 

‘According to our model’.

According to the BBC there are over 100 genders. You have to laugh.

Reply to  fretslider
February 23, 2021 7:33 am

Nothing referred to as ‘feedback’ in this article, or in fact in all of climate science, is even remotely close to the definition of feedback per Bode. which is the one and only reference used to support the horribly broken climate feedback model.

What they call feedback is really just the dependence of the system transfer function on its output, that is, the system being modeled changes as a function of its output (temperature). Proper feedback analysis requires the system transfer function to be invariant and independent of its inputs or outputs. And of course, the system being modeled must be linear and it must have an implicit source of power that isn’t the forcing.

George Ellis
February 23, 2021 3:53 am

Why do they even need to discuss the panel effect? The more obvious question is: so, you made power in the desert. How does it get anywhere? Where will the new copper/other mine be to get all that power somewhere else? What will be the loss by the time it gets anywhere else? Do we all need to more to the Sahara?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  George Ellis
February 23, 2021 10:17 am

The underwater heating-cable project may change the bottom temperatures of the Mediterranean.

beng135
Reply to  George Ellis
February 23, 2021 10:43 am

But the neo-marxists would very much like that – moving people into the Sahara where they don’t need housing or electricity, they’ll just be forced to become nomadic using camel caravans.

Phil
February 23, 2021 4:06 am

So, the claim is that over a certain percentate of coverage, solar panels will create a local climate which will import extra moisture into the region thus promoting greening of the surrounding savanna’s, that to me sounds like a win – win.

Electricity generation with a bonus of extra food crops.

MarkW
Reply to  Phil
February 23, 2021 9:36 am

The question then becomes, what happens in the rest of the world when this huge change in circulation over the Sahara happens. Don’t you think we should try and figure out what the side effects are going to be BEFORE we conduct this experiment in geo-engineering?

mike macray
Reply to  Phil
February 24, 2021 11:08 am

Phil:
“..create a local climate which will import extra moisture into the region thus promoting greening..”

Now you’re on to something!
How about flooding some of those many areas below sea level in
the Sahara. Take the Qattara depression in NW Egypt.
Almost 20,000 Sq. Kms.(7600 sq. miles) 60 metres (~200ft.) BSL average,deepest 150m (~500ft.). At 29º+/-Latitude, plenty of sunshine year round. Bit of canal digging and (expensive) tunneling required. But the hydraulic head 200+ ft. could be harnessed to generate electric power day and night replacing ‘x’ sq. kms of solar panels. Other benefits could include:
Desalination plants using electric power from inflow from Mediteranean.
Evaporative ponds to produce salt and other minerals from desal effluent brine. .
Fisheries, housing, employment, and agriculture could ensue.
Estimates of evaporation rates of 5mm/day translates to 700 cubic meters/sec. Energy absorbed would lower temperatures, increase humidity, and precipitation and lowering sea level.
Sensible use of surplus saharan solar energy.
The people of Miami and the Marshal Islands could sleep in peace secure in the knowledge that would not be inundated or wake up drowned!
Cheers
Mike

Climate believer
February 23, 2021 4:10 am

Other non-negligible reasons listed here from :

https://sinovoltaics.com/technology/solar-panels-deserts-part-1-chances-risks-testing/

Extreme temperatures: Solar cells are subject to enormous climatic stress.
Resource-intense operations: require good and stable cooling, this often involves the use of water.
Costly maintenance: access to deserts is usually more challenging.
Sand storms: sand storms are a frequent and challenging occurrence in deserts.
Geographic limitations
Grid connection
Specific effects on flora and fauna
Complicated terrestrial conditions
Dangerous and costly construction work
Political instability: many of the world’s large deserts that are close to sizeable urban areas are in instable regions prone to political unrest, threats of terrorism and even war, that carry a huge risk premium on the overall project investment.

Bruce Cobb
February 23, 2021 4:36 am

Hey, I’ve got it! How about, cover the entire moon with solar cells? It could supply the entire earth with plenty of electricity. And think of the jobs! All green, of course. Win-win!

David Roger Wells
February 23, 2021 4:43 am

Why-do-we-burn-coal-and-trees-to-make-solar-panels.pdf Planet of the Humans | By Jeff Gibbs, Executive Producer Michael Moore As Michael Moore made clear ordinary sand is not of the right quality to make solar panels you need quartz blue gem coal and highly refined carbon made from Canada Oil Tar sands facts which fanatical greens love to ignore.

Rick
February 23, 2021 6:18 am

Let’s be honest here and point out that this study too is based on computer models and therefore about as legitimate as all of the alarmist’s computer model predictions.

MarkW
Reply to  Rick
February 23, 2021 9:38 am

On the other hand, using their models to under cut one of their projects has a sense of poetic justice.

February 23, 2021 6:38 am

Electricity generation needs to be where the demand for electricity takes place, as close as possible to concentrated civilization.

No one lives in the Sahara Desert!

griff
Reply to  Ronald Stein
February 23, 2021 9:01 am

The Sahara comes pretty close to the inhabited coastal strip and Egypt… plus a HVDC line to Spain or Italy is quite within the bounds of feasibility.

But nobody, ever, is going to cover 20% of the Sahara with solar panels.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2021 10:33 am

But nobody, ever, is going to cover 20% of the Sahara with solar panels.

For once you said something I can agree with.

GoatGuy
February 23, 2021 7:15 am

It seems the ‘solution’ is just about as simple as the problem.  Ever play with those plastic strips of super-reflective stuff that is popularly attached to bicycle frames, warning signs, high-visibility coats and vests?  I once worked at a place that stocked the stuff for private airplane owners.  Some of it, no more expensive than most other roll plastic, was ridiculously reflective.  BACK.  Point a high-intensity flashlight (US) / torch (UK) at it, and something like 95% is reflected back at the source, more or less.  

For environmental durability, bond this to the backside of glass. Panels of it. For every m² of solar cells, require 1 m² of the super-reflector to be put on the SAME industrial scale panel frames.  

Net albedo change could be exactly zero. 
And that’d answer the problem.
Head on.
But it would have to be mandated by tight regulation and tough cheαting consequences.  
⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

Last edited 7 days ago by GoatGuy
DMacKenzie
February 23, 2021 8:06 am

First off….all the spare money on Earth can’t pay to cover 20% of the Sahara with PV cells much less infrastructure to move the electricity to point of use. Secondly their statements about the climate effects of condensation, offset rainfall in the amazon, etc….shows their “advanced Earth system model” is questionable to say the least….

February 23, 2021 8:13 am

Silicon solar cells have low absorption of infrared of wavelengths longer than 1,000 nm, which is about 20% of sunlight. This means about 35% of sunlight does not get converted to heat and about 65% does. Also green plants are highly reflective of most of the IR-A subset of infrared which is about 35% of sunlight and they reflect some green visible light, so about 65% of sunlight hitting green plants becomes heat, and not all of that 65% becoming heat at the time at the time the sunlight is absorbed because some becomes chemical energy at the time it is absorbed which becomes heat when the plants rot away or are burned. Soil is at least 65% absorbing of solar radiation reaching it, and most sand is about 40-50 % absorbing of solar radiation reaching it, so replacing bare soil with green plants or solar cells won’t increase heating of the land and replacing most sunlit sand with green plants or solar cells causes only a small increase of heating of the land. And if an increase in land heating increases rainfall in a desert, wouldn’t that be mostly beneficial with a decrease of daytime temperature?

DMacKenzie
February 23, 2021 8:16 am

So if all those dark panels cause climate issues, isn’t the unmentioned solution simply to paint the Sahara white ?

Felix
February 23, 2021 8:41 am

I don’t trust climate models predicting human global warming. Why would I trust these climate models?

lackawaxen123
February 23, 2021 8:48 am

since the greens define non renewable energy based on the fact that there is a “limited” supply of oil, gas and coal in the ground how does the same label not apply to wind and solar which need to be replaced every 20-30 years (actually sooner in reality)
the materials to build wind and solar are not unlimited … and the land required to install them is certainly not unlimited …
I see nothing “renewable” in wind and solar power …

MarkW
February 23, 2021 8:55 am

How often do they plan to fly in workers and water in order to clean those panels?

griff
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 9:03 am

There appear to be a number of solutions involving neither…

This Is How Solar Panels Panels Are Cleaned Regularly In The Desert (wonderfulengineering.com)

Lrp
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2021 10:42 am

Another dumb solution

MarkW
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2021 11:24 am

All of those “solutions” are going to scratch the heck out of the panels.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2021 1:54 pm

What you and others seem to be ignoring is the fact that such cleaning devices increase the cost of the installations and take power away from the already marginal energy-density solar panels.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 10:28 am

They can use ‘Borate Bombers’ for wildfire fighting, off-season, to clean the panels. 🙂

MarkW
February 23, 2021 8:58 am

Researchers imagine it might be possible to transform the world’s largest desert, the Sahara, into a giant solar farm, capable of meeting four times the world’s current energy demand.

The difficulty is that less than 0.01% of the world’s population lives in the Sahara. So for the rest of us, that electrical energy will have to be transmitted over wires to where people do live.
The Earth’s circumference is about 40,000km. Which means that the longest cable would be 20,000km.
Do these so called professors actually believe there will be any energy left after it is shipped that far?

Last edited 7 days ago by MarkW
Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2021 12:34 pm

If they are right, the panels will eventually terraform the sahara into a lush garden and everyone in europe will just move there.

Of course once its a lush garden the panels will be degraded by rain clouds and then it all collapses.

Like any ponzi scheme

MarkW
February 23, 2021 9:02 am

All that extra water in the atmosphere is also going to dramatically cut down on the amount of energy those solar panels are able to capture.

Joel O'Bryan
February 23, 2021 9:06 am

“This massive new heat source in the Sahara reorganises global air and ocean circulation, affecting precipitation patterns around the world.”

That’s a tail-wags-dog argument. It is total bullshit. Northern Hemisphere insolation is far more dominant across a hemisphere, a hemispheric-latitudinal energy imbalance that redirects/shifts the ITCZ. That imbalance is hemisphere wide, not some localized heating sources like solar farms, even a large one. Someone should tell these rent-seking morons that we live on a water planet heated by the Sun.

Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 9:32 am

This could further accelerate warming, as melting sea ice exposes dark water which absorbs much more solar energy.

This is as bad as talking about the “dark side of the moon!” However, it comes from The Conversation, which has publicly announced they will censor comments they don’t agree with — those are comments that challenge any of their authors. Thus, the authors don’t need to be concerned about peer review.

The uncited claim is like a zombie that won’t die. There are two related reasons that Arctic waters usually look dark, compared to, say, the Mediterranean or Bahamas; 1) the specular reflection is actually high (10-100%), but can only be observed and measured in the unique position of looking into the sun on the horizon, 2) with high surface reflectance, the amount of sunlight that actually enters the water is a small percentage (1-Reflectance), and thus there is little light available to be scattered back out by suspended sediment or plankton. Also, a ray of light that does enter the water will be refracted downward but continue in the same direction, increasing the chance that diffuse underwater scattering will be strongest in the forward direction, and weak in all other observing positions other than looking towards the sun.

By contrast, snow is a diffuse reflector that scatters light almost uniformly in all directions. (There is a strong forward lobe because the platelets of snow tend to have a sub-horizontal alignment.) Thus, no matter what viewing position an observer takes, or the position of the sun, snow will appear bright, and thus is said to have a high albedo.

This is another example of climastrologists speculating, based on what are essentially urban myths, on phenomena that are outside their areas of expertise.

MarkW
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 23, 2021 11:27 am

Goebbels would be so proud of these climate scientists.

Paul Penrose
February 23, 2021 10:15 am

I’m wondering about all the roads and new power lines that will have to be built in order to accomplish such a vast engineering feat. That will only add to the environmental degradation of the desert ecology. What will the long term effects of that be?

Walter Sobchak
February 23, 2021 10:58 am

In a recent study, we used an advanced Earth system model

Mathematical computer assisted onanism. If they don’t stop it, they will go blind.

Bill Rocks
February 23, 2021 10:59 am

After reading this I wonder what the effect the models calculate for vast areas of asphalt, concrete, roof tops, and so forth. My guess is that someone, possibly many, have made some calculations.

Should have performed an Internet search before writing.

Rhs
February 23, 2021 11:14 am

I’d like to see the carbon footprint required to but this many panels and the extension or power cable required to get my local power source replaced.
Living in Colorado, that power line should start about as big around as a lumberjacks leg.

Walter Sobchak
February 23, 2021 11:17 am

Seriously folks, the only conceivable use for solar energy is to power industrial processes that can work asynchronously.

What solar panels in the Sahara could do:

  1. Run water pumps to lift sea water out of the Atlantic. Run the sea water through pipes that will absorb the excess heat from the panels. Collect the steam from the boiling water. Presto desalinated water.
  2. Electrolyze some of the water to create hydrogen. Use the hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen to make ammonia for fertilizer, combustion, explosives.
  3. Run air liquification plants. Use liquid nitrogen to liquify natural gas. LOX can supercharge any combustion process and make CO2 collection feasible.
chemman
February 23, 2021 12:09 pm

Mr Rotter the caption under the four solar parks lists one as Desert Sublight. It is Desert Sunlight which is located outside of Desert Center California

Christopher Chantrill
February 23, 2021 12:54 pm

Why am I not surprised by this?

Mr. Lee
February 23, 2021 1:07 pm

The percent of solar radiation that is converted is irrelevant. Either the power per square meter is worth it, or it is not.
How much power loss would there be in transferring from the source in Africa to the load in Europe?

Anyhow, seems like a good project for Google, as they have such an embarrassment of riches that they are willing to throw tons of cash at instruments of virtue signaling.

Last edited 6 days ago by Mr. Lee
Zig Zag Wanderer
February 23, 2021 1:30 pm

I don’t really know why, but every time an article title includes “here’s” I know it’s socialist drivel. It’s always “[statement] here’s why…” Or “[statement] here’s what you need to know” or similar.

What’s disturbing is that so many media outlets use this. It’s almost as if someone is co-ordinating the release of articles or something.

Just keep it in mind, and you’ll start to notice more of them.

RickWill
February 23, 2021 1:42 pm

so a vast expanse of solar cells will absorb a lot of additional energy and emit it as heat, affecting the climate.

Pure rubbish. The energy balance on the globe is the result of sea surface thermostatic control. The energy in and out is controlled to limit the ocean surface temperature to a range of -2C to 30C. Nothing that happens over land alters the energy in the oceans. Land has no propensity to store energy. What comes in each day goes out the same day and night.

The models are unphysical. The results they produce is unphysical.

chris pasqualini
February 23, 2021 1:58 pm

Look, if the panels warm up too much in the desert sun, just put ’em in the shade.

Jeeze Louise, do I have to think of everything around here.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  chris pasqualini
February 23, 2021 4:57 pm

Article explained that the panel expanse would be self shading via clouds formed from the vast quantity of WV drawn into the area.
The rain falling from those clouds would also make them self cleaning.
The climastrologists finally discovered that clouds are a negative feedback working against CAGW,

Last edited 6 days ago by Steve Reddish
February 23, 2021 5:47 pm

And what happens at night? So many deserts lose heat quickly and can be very cold at night, including the Sahara. Here, it will stay abnormally warm, causing problems for the life that does exist, and, goodness, who knows what the unintended consequences of climate cultist actions could be.

OweninGA
February 24, 2021 5:16 am

So as I understand it, The Sahara was formed when the dry down-welling air of the Hadley cell moved from coming down over extreme southern Italy to south of the Mediterranean Sea due to the cooling after the Roman Warm period. If we place a large (100s of square miles) heat collecting plant in the desert and it applies an updraft that draws in sea laden air, wouldn’t that just push the Hadley down-welling air north to the Mediterranean? It also might move the path of the Coriolis induced westerlies a few degrees north in latitude. That could have some impact on tropical cyclone formation as the waves would be coming off of the extreme north of Africa and southern Spain over oceans that are not quite as warm. Though all of these perturbations would be localized to the area around The Sahara. The Hadley cell in the rest of the world would still be down-welling at the same latitudes, unless the plan is to cover all those latitudes with solar heat plants. Of course, the next question is how would this effect the southern Hadley cell?

I saw a plan years ago to pave a large patch (100s of square miles) of the eastern Sahara to attempt to induce rainfall. As I recall, it was laughed off the world stage.

rgb
February 24, 2021 1:55 pm

Actually, LOCALLY heating the surface of the Earth in a part of the world that is very dry will have a very small, possibly negative impact. The rate of heat loss in the Sahara is such that it often freezes at night on the same desert that reaches 120F during the day. Heat loss from higher temperatures during a clear night is actually faster than from cooler temperatures. This sort of localized heating may raise the Earth’s temperature average, but is IMO unlikely to cause a uniform increase in global temperature. This is nothing compared to the urban heat island effect or the effect of the millions of square kilometers of tarmac covered roadway all over the world.

Paul of Alexandria
February 24, 2021 3:11 pm

Put the solar panels in orbit, where they belong.

Alexander Vissers
February 25, 2021 12:23 pm

I guess solar panels will increase nighttime radiation an cool the air better at night than the soil they are build on. For now a Sahara solar panel farm is very distant.

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