Solar energy, from one dependence to another

Solar energy is sustainable only if expanded sustainably. Therefore…

Numerous economic, political and technical barriers stand in the way of tapping this apparently boundless resource that is solar energy. So says Al Jazeera, with plenty of data to ponder, because:

  • “switching large proportions of our electricity supply to solar power would occupy enormous swathes of land”, and maybe even “set off a chain reaction that travels from urban areas to reach as far away as the rainforests”

The article then explains how, since “one example of suitable land for solar installations are deserts [but] there are no real deserts to speak of in Europe”, …

  • Energy would come from sun instead of fossil fuels, which is surely good. But Europe would remain dependent for much of its energy from foreign countries, including radically Islamic ones, or countries heavily tied to China, just like today
  • Exporting solar energy from poorer North Africa to a richer Europe that can afford to pay more for it would effectively mean less renewable and more fossil fuel power for local consumption, which would leave the global picture largely unaltered.
Solar energy, from one dependence to another /img/desertec.jpg

In other words, we live in interesting times, and will continue to do so for decades. Clean and sustainable times they may be, but interesting nevertheless.

Image source: the Wikipedia page for Desertec, a project “aimed at creating a global renewable energy plan”