Your point is right on. The ROI doens't seem to justify the cost of investing this transfer. However, if the scientists can develop better solutions maybe that will help with justification. But it is true that we have to start looking at these options because eventually our cgreat great great grand children will reply upon how we treat our earth now.
Been digging around re this topic and hard figures certainly do not abound.
If you believe Desertec, their transmission scheme (HVDC) has an efficiency loss of only 3% over a 1000km distance. HVDC, though, can only be used for long-haul transmission and must couple to an AC distribution network. Also, the 10,000 MW of sunlight available to a 25 square kilometer site (the size of the recent California project) is planned to be converted to heat, then electricity through turbines.
Efficiency losses might very well make this project a bad investment. The article seems like good source of hope, but without an up-front discussion on efficiency, it's more like a source of hype.
I appreciated the economical and logical discussion you put forth at the earlier part of your discusion, but I must confess I was put off by the typical arrogance of the West that you stated at the end "Security will be a drop in the bucket, compared to construction and transmission costs, and could be accomplished mostly with drone aircraft, but also must be run privately".
The idea of a voting council to vote on investment and the vote value tied to level of investment is good for the investing partners, what is the vote value of the host nations from whose land the resources are mined?
The issue I keep referring to is the fact that the solar energy which Europe and the West need is in sorveign countries whose air space and land need to be respected. The usual "match over" governments and the people of developing nations to get natural resources that the West needs is unacceptable.
I actually have a degree in Economics, and assure you, economists consider all the costs, including the cost of doing nothing. The latter is the greatest cost of all, as dependency on fossil fuels and their distribution have hampered the technological and social advance of the human race for too many centuries.
Economists will also tell you that fair market value for natural resources reduces the risk of an interruption in production, but does not eliminate it. Let's face it, there are plenty of small, militant, unstable groups out there doing bad for bad's sake. It is disingenuous to assume that as long as everyone is treated 'fairly' there will be no security risk. "human relationship building" doesn't work with inhumane terrorist organizations bent on the idealogical, political, religious and economic overthrow of the West.
My only point was that this is an ideal solution, but far too complex to be carried out by any single government or group of governments. I disagree that private enterprise won't wait for a payday. How long did it take for PCs to pay off big? ~10 yrs. Flat screen TVs? ~10 yrs.
How about this scenario? All the current producers of electricity in Europe / Eurasia who want a clean, eternally-renewable supply of electricity get together and form a joint venture, with investment based on current (pun!) and projected future electricity delivery needs. One representative from each company has a voice on a voting council, with vote value tied to the level of investment. Keep Socialist economies / governments out of it. Oh, wait, that would exclude half of Europe.....
Security will be a drop in the bucket, compared to construction and transmission costs, and could be accomplished mostly with drone aircraft, but also must be run privately.
The thought that the technological, political, economic and logistic problems should and will be solved by private entities may be oversimplifying the solutions to this monumental task of harnessing solar energy and transporting it over thousands of miles. To harness the energy is the easier of the 2 issues.
Like Bolaji stated in his response, investors will be reluctant to wait for a decade for returns on investments and I don't believe Microsoft and Intel will be philantropic in this regard either. So my suggested soultion is a partnership between the local governments and the private investors.
In terms of security, let us take a leaf of learning from our plight in IRAQ and Afghanistan. No amount of foreign military forces will be adequate to man the desert. The hostile terrain and unforgiving weather fluctuations will be insurmontable for any foreign force, and if I might add will add to the animosity of "occupation" by the West. So let us back off that one and use structured "human relationship building" with the local governments; layered with a good measure good old diplomacy, respect, and business negotiations. The respect I am referring to is in terms of investors assigning adequate value to raw materials harnessed and balanced to the cost of energy harnessed in order to benefit both the locals and Europe.
Economist will disagree with me because it sounds too benevolent, but stop and consider the cost of sabottage of transmission lines and lives that will be lost if disenfranchised local communities disrupt all the investments. Which will be greater?
THis is the way it SHOULD be. I agree wholeheartedly.
The technological, political, economic and logistic problems are so severe, it could only be accomplished thrrough private enterprise. THink about it. There will immediately be opposition from displaced and replaced technologies, political entities and eco-nuts. Yes, the eco-nuts will want to save the Saharan sand flea..... Then move on to the very real threat of terrorist activity. If all of Europe is on a solar grid in Africa, there will need to be major NATO embattlements placed all around, and along the "pipeline", whatever shape it takes.
Only an entity as rich as Microsoft / Intel oould get this off the ground, using private funding and private security forces and security technology. If it is left up to government, ANY government, well. I'm sure you can all cite your favorite program that bureaucracy has dealt the death blow....
"...no one would want to waste existing investments!"
Funny you should mention that. I was taught in business school not to consider sunk costs (in existing investments) when making economic decisions. Struck me initially as counter-intuitive, but I understand that sometimes the best economic decisions mean disregarding prior costs. Maybe that's why the so many economic decisions are ecologically destructive--ecology is typically not accounted for economically.
Batteries would only be a temporary solution. The most viable longer-term solution would still be cable transmission, which has high initial installation costs but over time would be more cost-effective for a project of this scale. What Desertec envisions is constant energy generation from the sun. Until the sun burns out, (yikes!) we could conceivably continue to tap it for power for generations. This therefore makes it more sensible to use cable transmission for what could be in service hundreds of years. The advantage batteries have as an interim solution is to allow developers to begin tapping the resource immediately. For the companies involved, this is all about profit and if payday is decades away attracting investors could become difficult.
Backorder, I agree with you. Having a renewable source to provide the necessary energy for the whole planet makes great sense and it should be considered as a good business idea. After all, as things are going it will be the only way out in just a few years' time no matter if people like it or not. There might be a time coming when thinking of something as a good investment or not could be irrelevant as the life on this planet might be at risk.
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.