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  • Could we power the world鈥檚 largest desert with solar power?

  • Researchers imagine it might be possible to transform the world鈥檚 largest desert, the Sahara, into a giant solar farm, capable of meeting four times the world鈥檚 current energy demand. Blueprints have been drawn up for projects in Tunisia and Morocco that would supply electricity for millions of households in Europe.

  • How do deserts cool the Earth?

  • 鈥淒eserts are heat producers, reflecting around 60% to 70% of the solar energy that falls on them straight back into the atmosphere.鈥?Deserts reflect sunlight through the atmosphere TO SPACE, where it is lost from the atmosphere. Thus deserts cool the planet. Sunlight is transmitted through the atmosphere, not absorbed.

  • What is the Mojave Desert鈥檚 solar energy?

  • The 1980s-era SEGS, or Solar Energy Generating System, also in the Mojave, about 100 miles southwest of Ivanpah, has a 354-MW capacity, but it is a collection of nine plants. Viewed from above, the mirrors seem to angle their faces like enormous silvery blooms craning to the sun.

  • How does a solar power plant work in the desert?

  • It was designed by BrightSource Energy to use more than 170,000 mirrors to focus sunlight onto boilers positioned atop three towers, which reach nearly 500 feet (150 meters) into the dry desert air. The reflected sunlight heats water in the boilers to make steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity鈥攅nough to power more than 140,000 homes.

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