Welcome To Desertec-Africa PDF Print E-mail
Desertec Africa

DESERTEC-Africa is an independent organization that has set itself a mission to get the African continent take advantage of what it has in abundance: - sun energy falling as sunlight on the African deserts to produce what it is in dire need of: - electricity, by means of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), as well as harness wind energy along its coastal regions. 
There is enough sunlight falling on
Africa's deserts to power not only Africa and Europe but the whole world also. Therefore, if Africa would harvest just a fraction of solar energy on its deserts and arid sahel region, it would not only meet its immediate acute energy needs but also have enough energy to have  its vast mineral resources processed locally, thereby triggering new high level of investment and employment opportunities in the continent.

Africa As Clean Energy Power House PDF Print E-mail
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Every year, each square kilometer of the desert receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Multiplying by the area of deserts in Africa or in the world, this is several hundred times as much energy as the world uses in a year.  What this means is that in Africa, countries like Algeria, Angola, Libya and Nigeria can move directly from being oil-rich to being solar-rich, well assuming they emulate United Arab Emirate and invest their earnings from oil in technologies such as CSP to harness energy from the richly and freely available sunlight in the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts.



      Areas in the world with high solar insolation include sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts

For a country like Nigeria, this would mean, the region in the north instead of the southern Niger delta region, would now be the energy power house, since electricity from solar thermal power plants located in the parts of the North that lies in the arid Sahel zone, would be sold both locally in Africa and possibly exported to Europe to generate more revenue than what Nigeria currently earns from petroleum export. CSP technology is the most suitable solar based technology to put this enormous amount of solar energy to use.

The principle behind CSP is very basic and should be familiar to anyone who had once used a lens or a mirror to focus sunlight to lit bonfire at campground in the wood or at festival ground, or to burn a hole onto a sheet of paper. Similarly, mirrors or reflectors of various shapes are used in CSP systems to focus sunlight to a surface to generate heat. The heat is then used to boil water to generate steam which then drives turbines to generate electricity: - this is basically how a solar thermal power plant works.

Should you, now that you are fascinated with solar heat, desire to make your coal-fired power plant “clean” by using clean concentrated solar heat, instead of “dirty” coal to fire it, if so, then you need to make the following preliminary considerations to determine the amount of solar heat that you would need. Now, using coal, depending on the capacity of the power plant, 400-700 °C heat could be generated to produce enough steam to drive the turbines of the coal-fired power plant. Therefore the lens you once used to burn a hole on a sheet of paper or lit campfire, would be ineffective here, rather it is only a mega sized mirror or a collection of mirrors, about the size of a football field is (are) capable of concentrating sunlight(beams) to generate heat of 400-700°C, and in order to generate this amount of heat fast enough, you need to site the mirror(s) in a place that receives a mega amount of daily sunshine.

Some of the world deserts are among the few places on earth that meet these requirements. No wonder the site of the first concentrating solar power plant was the desert: - in the California's Mojave Desert, to be precise.  

Solar thermal power plants, with the exception of solar updraft tower, can only use direct sunlight, also known as Direct Normal Irradiation (DNI). This is the fraction of sunlight which is not absorbed or reflected by the atmosphere, i. e not deviated by clouds, fumes or dust in the atmosphere and that reaches the earth’s surface in parallel beams for concentration. Therefore, in addition to the availability of large open space and sunshine, solar thermal power plants are sited in regions with high direct solar irradiation.

A site or region is deemed suitable if it receives at least 2,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of sunlight radiation per m2 annually, while the best site locations receive more than 2,800 kWh/ m2 / year. Ideal site regions, are where the climate and vegetation do not produce high levels of atmospheric humidity, dust and fumes, they include steppes, bush, savannas, semi-deserts and true deserts, located within less than 40 degrees of latitude north or south.


In Africa, Sahara and to some extent Kalahari and Namib deserts offer large uninhabited open space for mega-size-mirrors or reflectors (concentrators), and have high average daily irradiance, therefore are considered good and suitable sites respectively for concentrated solar power installations or solar thermal power plants (good consideration have to be made though, of the fact that Kalahari and Namib are inhabited to some extent).

Africa is the only region in the world which has many sites. Apart from the deserts, Africa's Sahel Stepes and Savanna Grassland which stretch across Africa from the East to the West are also considered suitable for solar thermal installations.

The total amount of energy irradiated from the sun to the sunbelt regions in Africa is enough to provide for annual energy consumption in Africa and Europe several folds. Blessed with tremendous amount of “solar resource” as well as “desert resource”, Africa is a continent to behold. Desert resource?- that’s right, desert is today a high value resource, just yesterday it was a desolate waste land. What a difference today makes! Thanks to quest for clean, cheap energy, Africa’s deserts and its surroundings are no longer regarded as the epicenter of drought and famine, and “Mecca” to European Aid Organizations and Aid-business organizations rather they serve today as “clean energy resource centers” patronized by crème de la crème of European industrialists and blue chip companies. In the same vain, thanks to Africa’s solar and desert resources the end of Africa’s energy misery could be nearer than envisaged.

In Europe, where there is no deserts, an organization called Trans Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC), also known as DESERTEC, has proposed developing large-scale solar thermal plants in the North Africa section of the Sahara desert and transmitting the power to Europe through high-voltage direct current power lines.   


The significant difference between the European current concept of clean solar energy from African desert and its forerunner in Kramer Junction plant in California's Mojave Desert, built in the 1980s with a total output of 354 MW is this: the solar thermal plants as operated at the California power plants is a hybrid system incorporating an auxiliary heating with fossil fuels. The European plan involves stand a-lone solar thermal plants, in which the solar energy generating system uses nothing other than the energy from the sun: - to demonstrate that environmental friendly solar thermal power plants can be a source of secure energy supply, be operated profitably and sustainable.

Following the questioning of the rational of producing solar energy in African desert for Europe, while the rest of Africa is left out of the project, a decision was reached to set up DESERTEC-Africa to extend the concept of “clean electricity from desert” to the rest of Africa. The only difference is that clean energy generated in Africa’s sunny backyard would be transmitted via High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) within Africa rather than from Africa to Europe. In this case African countries or corporate organizations would set up alongside Europeans, solar thermal power stations in the Sahara desert as well as in other African deserts.

(insert here a map of Africa showing hvdc transmission lines across africa)   

Our enthusiasm for CSP is based on its excellent prospect for Africa's development.  That is why Desertec-Africa campaigns for its adoption by African countries, to harness electricity from the sun.

If you think it is an overstatement, to assert that CSP is going to go down on record as a singular case of technology that ushered in a rapid transformation of Africa to a developed continent then you may want to think again: - because if Africa, rich in mineral resources transforms itself into energy giant: - able to produce enough electricity for itself and for the rest of the world, should use this electricity to process its vast mineral resources and export value-added finished products or intermediates instead of raw materials, as it is the case today, then it would be rather an understatement to say that Africa’s developmental transformations would dwarf current impressive development of China, a country that is not as blessed with mineral resources as Africa.  



Be Part OF Africa's Transformation PDF Print E-mail
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Africa-enthusiast though you may be, yet you may have once had reason to assert that lives are lost needlessly in Africa. If so you are not alone: - someone else also, has observed in Africa that lives would have been saved, had live-saving equipments came to use, instead of lie unused due to lack of electricity. Desertec-Africa is of the opinion that sustainable electricity supply to hospitals  would transform healthcare institutions across the continentin for good: - lives that are needlessly lost, because of sudden power failure or lack of it during surgery at hospitals, would be saved, as well as lead to improved health care services in the continent. Support the concept of clean energy from desert! Support Desrtec-Africa awareness campaign!

You may be the humane type of person, who, upon watching on television, pictures of the ever occurring starvation in some parts of Africa, is moved to do something to change the situation. Then you are also not alone in this regard. Someone else was equally moved to see to it that Desertec-Africa came into existence to encourage Africa to help itself, because this person felt it was wrong to play a spectator in one's own case, therefore Africa cannot sit on the sideline and watch while clean solar energy is produced on the African Sahara desert for transmission to Europe. Therefore, Desertec-Africa is of the opinion that the availability of affordable electricity that could sustain irrigation in Africa’s drought-prone regions would enable people in these regions prevent starvation sustainably. Drought may be unavoidable, starvation however, can be prevented by ameliorating the effects of drought. Give Africa electricity and it will feed itself. Support Desertec initiative for electricity for all.

You may also have noticed that Africa does not lack in professionals in any field, you are equaly right in this regard also, what Africa lacks is the enabling conditions to retain and attract professionals. Making electricity, the “mother of all enabling conditions”, readily available in Africa is a sure way to improve on work conditions across the continent, retain professional in Africa, trigger  the return to Africa, of professions of Africa extraction who are outside Africa, as well as attract professionals from around the world to Africa.

If you have now realized how critical electricity is for Africa's development, then you may want to do more than be only  a concerned observer of the development in Africa, who longs for Africa's transformation. You may want to, not only be part of Africa’s Transformation, but also be in the center of it, catalyze it. Support Desertec-Africa's initiative for large scale harnessing of clean solar energy falling as sunlight on Africa's deserts, arid sahel region and savanna grassland. Support our call on African countries and companies to establish solar thermal or wind power plant in Africa to meet Africa's acute electricity need. Desertec-Africa uses its awareness campaign to provide further information on how to go about this. 

Support Desertec-Africa by

  • lending your voice to make politicians and policy makers, media and corporate organizations as well as public and private institutions and individuals across the African continent aware of the importance of "clean energy from desert concept" and our “Africa-Wide Clean Energy Generation” initiative,
  • availing yourself of our expertsie in developing "enabling" regulations or policies on renewable energy technologies that would enable countries, corporate organisations and individuals set up renewable energy generating facilities in Africa.
  • availing yourself of our expertise in setting up either small, large scale solar thermal or wind generating facilities in Africa.

Support our recently initiated studies and research on the technically and economically most viable form of solar thermal power plant for Africa.