How Solar & Wind Farms In The Sahara Desert Can Make It A Green Paradise With Regular Rainfall
Despite being a barren wasteland, the Sahara Desert is actually major real estate for companies involved in renewable energy.
But even as these companies develop it for solar green energy farms, they may also have another positive effect on the region.
The baking sun and harsh winds of the Sahara, combined with the few pockets of civilization occupying it, make for a perfect location for solar and wind farms. In fact, many large projects are already underway, attempting to use the desert to generate green energy. However, aside from its potential as a hub for eco-friendly projects, scientists have largely ignored what could happen once all these projects come into play.
In new research from the University of Illinois, it seems setting up solar and wind farms could actually benefit the Sahara desert region itself, aside from generating renewable energy. They calculated predictions of how the local temperature, precipitation, and vegetation would change if the entirety of the desert’s 9 million square kilometres was blanketed in energy farms. They found that mega projects covering the whole desert could together generate as much electricity as the global energy budget of 2017.
More importantly though, covering the desert’s surface area with solar panels and wind turbines actually boosts rainfall and vegetation in the surrounding area.
“Our results obtained from experiments performed with a climate model suggest that, for installations of wind and solar farms with current conversion efficiency in the desert at a scale large enough to power the entire world, the impacts on regional climate would be beneficial rather than detrimental,” the study’s authors wrote .
“This highlights that, in addition to avoiding anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and the resulting warming, wind and solar energy could have other unexpected beneficial climate impacts.”