Sahara Holds Key to Powering Half the World
'Solar Breeder Project' would extract silica from desert sand
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 17, 2011 1:43 PM CST
Silica in Sahara Desert sand could help provide half the world's electricity needs by 2050, scientists hope.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Scientists in Japan and Algeria have a plan they say could provide half the world’s electricity needs by 2050, and it all starts with the Sahara desert. Factories built around the desert could isolate the silica from sand to make photovoltaic solar panels; the panels could power solar plants; and the plants could power more silica extraction, ultimately creating enough photovoltaic panels to power half the world—a cycle scientists are calling the “Sahara Solar Breeder Project,” reports Good.

One of the first (of many) challenges: Figuring out how to turn desert silica into silicon of high enough purity for it to work in the photovoltaic panels.