Bolaji, Could you please point me to some resource where we can find how viable the battery transportation model is against convetional power transmission. I assume we have and are currently investing huge sums in transmission facilities. Is there a strong reason for not considering to store and transport, because I dont come across supporters of this at all.
I think it's in the areas you identified that contract and component sales opportunities exist for electronic companies. OEMs make the equipment that go into substations, transformers, etc and they are using more electronic parts in these equipment nowadays. Whatever the merits and disadvantages of the program it is almost definite that sometime in the near future we will see solar panels proliferatiing in the Sahara.
The idea is now out, the technology is available and whether the power generated is used in Africa or Europe, it will come to market eventually. If the Desertec project fails because of wranglings among the Mediterranean countries or due to cost prohibitions, I believe the North African countries most likely will pursue smaller projects that can satisfy some of their local energy requirements.
I dont know if it is only me or everyone feels the same way, but the vision of getting all the energy neccessary for the planet off a renewable resource makes the most business sense! The way I feel, I can almost trace the lack of capability, promise, intent or effort in green energy back to the Oil giants who obviously have a lot invested in conventional non renewable resources. They, on the other hand, are probably possessing the best technologies to push the pace. However, no one would want to waste existing investments!
In order to transfer the electricity from these renewable sources, the Utility must build the infrastructure like substations, transmission and distribution lines to pass these energy for consumer use. Once that infrastructure is built, it will definitely be beneficial for a long long time.
Generating electricity from solar panels is a proven technology. The challenge Desertec and the Sahara project would face is primarily that of transmission. To be precise, how do you transport the power generated from thousands of miles away to consumption points without losing 60 percent or more of the energy? Again, although this might seem to be a major challenge, the technology to address the problem is already available.
There are ways to transport electricity by cable without losing too much of the power. One way is to use HVDC or high voltage direct current. Many European industrial giants are able to build the lines and I believe this is why companies like Siemens and ABB are likely to get involved. Semiconductor companies will be involved at the points of generation, transportation and in the provision of the smart meters that will be used at the consumption points. The technology is not the problem, perhaps not even the funding but certainly the will could be problematic.
Prabhakar, I like your suggestions on how to store and transmit solar energy. The use of giant batteries that can be transported by sea and air could help slash the project cost. Transmission is the main challenge this project will face and building the lines to carry power across the Mediterranean will no doubt be very expensive. I believe giant battery pods can be more easily carried across the sea and this could offer the opportunity to extend the use of the power generated across multiple countries rather than limiting this to only the countries bordering the Mediterranean. It can also help reduce the transmission cost for the African countries too, including across the Sahara.
Anna, Could you please expand on the technology challenges facing this project and how the developers hope to tackle this. Also, what are the opportunities here for tech companies to participate? Looking at the share scale of the project, this offers opportunities for investment and I wonder which other companies are involved. In terms of the semiconductor sector, many companies offer products that go into solar panels and power storage. I believe significant opportunities exist here for OEMs and component vendors to sell products to the power generators and the builders. Any further insight would be appreciated.
Excellent suggestions. Your comments addressed the technological problems associated with the deployment. Many of the comments here have focused on the social issues, exploitation -- of Africa by Europeans -- corruption and stuff like this. This is a program that can be beneficial to everyone and the concept that "Africa's energy needs should be met first" is balderdash. The African countries are assisting with this project and they already are aware of the benefits to their countries. The involvement of for-profit companies investing their own money means it would be more difficult for corrupt governments to hijack the project.
The idea of using batteries to store the power generated is a good one. I wonder if Anna has any additional ideas about how the companies involved hope to resolve the technology issues associated with this project.
Very good article Anna indeed. As you also mention in your article, the transmission and distribution costs are the most significant costs involved. I wonder how much of the budget will be put to hardware (solar panels as they are damn expensive) and how much for the distribution as there will be mammoth distribution system to transmit power from Africa to Europe?
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.