Connect with us


The desert: where the sun always, always, shines

Alex Blackburne explores the increasingly deliberated idea of widespread solar power generation in deserts, and how it can provide generational opportunities to millions.

One of the biggest hindrances for renewable energy – particularly solar – is its ability to produce power consistently.



Alex Blackburne explores the increasingly deliberated idea of widespread solar power generation in deserts, and how it can provide generational opportunities to millions.

One of the biggest hindrances for renewable energy – particularly solar – is its ability to produce power consistently.

Whilst we can guarantee there will always be sunlight in the world somewhere, many locations for this type of renewable energy are flawed, insofar that nature is sometimes selfishly unpredictable, and the sun simply doesn’t shine enough for the projects to be wholly sustainable.

Hereby arrives an opportunity – one that is so vast, it has the potential, if managed correctly, to power the whole world.

With around one third of the Earth’s land surface covered by desert – a lot of which is unused, untouched and uninhabited – installing massive solar farms to generate energy for whole continents is an entirely realistic prospect.

The role of pioneers of such a scheme falls to Desertec, a $400 billion, largely German-led project, which plans to install a huge network of solar farms across Middle Eastern and North African deserts, with the ultimate aim being a 15% energy contribution to Europe.

The scheme makes sense too, with the largest desert in the world, the Sahara, covering 9m square kilometres across 12 countries, making it the perfect base for a solar power revolution.

After being announced in 2009, the ambitious initiative was initially met with scepticism by many in the solar power sector, with one article in The Economist labelling it “audacious if fanciful” in 2010.

But two years of continued industry backing has promoted the Desertec scheme from pipedream to reality, and in November, it announced plans to build its first solar farm – a 12 square kilometre project in the Moroccan desert.

Daniel Ayuk Mbi Egbe of the African Network for Solar Energy was quoted in The Guardian to have claimed that historical trends had meant that not everyone in the continent was behind the project.

“Many Africans are sceptical [about Desertec]”, he said.

“[Europeans] make promises, but at the end of the day, they bring their engineers, they bring their equipment, and they go.

“It’s a new form of resource exploitation, just like in the past.”

In the same Guardian article, Paul Van Son, CEO at Desertec, acknowledged that there had been early doubters, but said that they were now on the same wavelength.

“When the idea for Desertec was first announced there was anger and irritation from the Arab League“, he said, “They didn’t understand it at first, but we explained that it would benefit their members, too.

“We explained it would be a cooperative process and they became more relaxed. It’s a win-win for all, we stressed. The relationship is all positive now.”

The above image shows the potential enormity of the Desertec network, which is planned to encapsulate and harness all forms of alternative energy across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and not just solar power.

The image puts the network into a visual perspective, and reveals the vastness of the North African deserts, which are just waiting to become home to large-scale solar projects, and ultimately provide power to millions of people.

One question to arise following the increased prominence of the plans is, “Why hasn’t this been done sooner?”

Even though such innovative and world-changing plans might, in theory, sound simple enough – it’s easy to erect thousands of solar panels in the middle of a desert, and just sit back and watch the electricity metre rise, right?

Not really.

Although the idea for solar generation in deserts is certainly not a new idea, it’s taken until the 21st century to invent and accumulate the necessary technology to undertake such an ambitious project.
Now it’s here, and we’ve finally realised it’s completely achievable, we can start planning for our future, safe in the knowledge that it’s going to be a heck of a lot more sustainable.

For democracies emerging after the Arab Spring, which have plentiful deserts within their borders, solar energy could make them the world’s exporters of clean energy in a post-oil world.

The Desertec project is just a speck in our hopes for creating a blue and green tomorrow. The rest is down to you, and where your money is invested. To find out more about how to make your money make a difference, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or fill in our online form, and we’ll connect you to a specialist ethical adviser.

Photo: e pants

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

Continue Reading


5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



home renovation and improvement
Shutterstock Licensed Image - By Stock-Asso

Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Poznyakov >

Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

Continue Reading