Annual Solar Energy input to Earth
With an average level of solar radiation between 2,000 to 3,200 kWh per square metre a year, Egypt has significant potential for solar energy. To date, however, uptake of solar projects has been slow because of high capital costs, but the country has recently moved to expand its solar capacity.
3,000 kWh over 365 days would power a well-designed, energy efficient home. That's 1 square metre of sunlight. Exporting this power to less sunny countries is not a simple task, but more anon ...
Solar plans in Egypt
On today's news, 23rd November 2015, Egypt plans to build a huge solar power plant that uses a large array of mirrors to focus the solar energy on a smaller array of photovoltaic collectors. The idea of arrays of mirrors isn't new, but was originally uses to focus heat rather light.
40 years ago I wrote to my MP highlighting the fact the global energy consumption is tiny compared to what arrives from the sun every day, and the reply was both idle and patronising. We cannot risk our energy supplies on foreign soil!"
Well there are plenty of countries with abundant sunlight, and it's hardly likely that they'd all be more mischievous than Europe's present major supplier of gas - Russia.
Storing electricity from a huge array, such as the planned Egyptian array, is impractically expensive using batteries. Li-ion batteries are the obvious choice as Lithium (atomic mass ~7) is the lightest molecule which can bind hydrogen. Carbon is also very efficient, as CH4, but the atmospheric source, CO2, is in such low concentrations that it is presently an impractical option. It is simple and energy efficient to use electricity to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is the most condensed form of energy per kilogram, but is highly flammable, with a very low ignition temperature. It is also the hardest gas to contain, because H2 is such a small molecule. Piping CH4 to homes works well (mains gas), but H2 would be very dangerous.
Egypt, environment, photos, renewable energy, solar, solar storage, sustainability