Genesis Morocco: Wind energy is currently much cheaper than solar energy. Doesn’t it make more sense to import wind energy from the Sahara?


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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Sunday, November 1, 2009    <<Home

Wind energy is currently much cheaper than solar energy. Doesn’t it make more sense to import wind energy from the Sahara?

The import of electricity from wind power or photovoltaic energy is not excluded, but these sources of energy involve some significant disadvantages compared to solar-thermal power plants. There are indeed large wind energy potentials in the Sahara, particularly along the Atlantic coast and the Red Sea, which are economical at the same time. However, wind energy is not controllable according to demand and is therefore less valuable than solar energy. Wind energy potential is not nearly as large as solar energy potentials and is, as such, used widely as a cheap source of energy for local energy requirements in MENA.

Exporting wind energy, which is fluctuating in nature, in large quantities to a region that has too few controllable energy sources at its disposal would not be welcomed by European energy consumers and providers. Less of the HVDC transmission capacity would be utilized (approximately 50% of their full capacity) and their operation would hence become more expensive. The potential of seasonal balance effects which can be attained would not nearly be as large as that of the systematic import of controllable energy from solar-thermal power plants. The same can be said of photovoltaic energy as an exportable power source: Only 25% of the power line capacity would be utilized.

Together with European domestic sources, solar-thermal power plants can deliver the controlled energy required as well as the basic supply, thereby dramatically increasing the utilization of the HVDC transmission lines. The TRANS-CSP scenario describes power line utilization at an initial 60% in 2020, rising to 80% by 2050