All of the European continent’s electrical needs could be generated by massive solar farms in Africa, scientists posited today, unveiling a plan to do just that, the Guardian reports. The proposal, which would require an area the size of Wales—insignificant in the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert, they note—is highly speculative; the biggest hurdle would likely be upgrading the European and trans-Mediterranean power grid to carry, and share, the power.
And it’s not around the corner: scientists from Europe’s Institute for Energy imagine a $700-billion project that would produce an amount of power equivalent to Great Britain’s current output by 2050. Solar farms would deploy photovoltaic cells, or concentrate the desert's intense heat to boil water and drive turbines. The plan would include long distance transmission of power by high-voltage direct current, and an integrated grid that would allow all European countries to use or sell power as needed. (Read more solar power stories.)