Country Economic potential
(TWh/y)
Coastal potential
(TWh/y)
Algeria 169 000 60
Libya 140 000 500
Saudi Arabia 125 000 2 000
Egypt 74 000 500
Iraq 29 000 60
Morocco 20 000 300
Oman 19 000 500
Syria 10 000 0
Tunisia 9 200 350
Jordan 6 400 0
Yemen 5 100 390
Israel 3 100 1
UAE 2 000 540
Kuwait 1 500 130
Spain 1 300 70
Qatar 800 320
Portugal 140 7
Turkey 130 12
Total 620 000
(70 000 GW)
6 000
(650 GW)

could be produced in countries in Europe and North Africa. The “eco-
nomic potential” adds up to more than enough to supply 125 kWh per
day to 1 billion people. The total “coastal potential” is enough to supply
16 kWh per day per person to 1 billion people.

Let’s try to convey on a map what a realistic plan could look like.
Imagine making solar facilities each having an area of 1500 km2 – that’s
roughly the size of London. (Greater London has an area of 1580 km2; the
M25 orbital motorway around London encloses an area of 2300 km2.) Let’s
call each facility a blob. Imagine that in each of these blobs, half the area is
devoted to concentrating power stations with an average power density of
15 W/m2, leaving space around for agriculture, buildings, railways, roads,
pipelines, and cables. Allowing for 10% transmission loss between the
blob and the consumer, each of these blobs generates an average power
of 10 GW. Figure 25.8 shows some blobs to scale on a map. To give a
sense of the scale of these blobs I’ve dropped a few in Britain too. Four of
these blobs would have an output roughly equal to Britain’s total electricity
consumption (16 kWh/d per person for 60 million people). Sixty-five blobs
would provide all one billion people in Europe and North Africa with
16 kWh/d per person. Figure 25.8 shows 68 blobs in the desert.

Table 25.6. Solar power potential in countries around and near to Europe. The “economic potential” is the power that could be generated in suitable places where the direct normal irradiance is more than 2000 kWh/m2/y.
The “coastal potential” is the power that could be generated within 20 m (vertical) of sea level; such power is especially promising because of the potential combination with desalination.
For comparison, the total power required to give 125 kWh per day to 1 billion people is 46 000 TWh/y (5 200 GW). 6000 TWh/y (650 GW) is 16 kWh per day per person for 1 billion people.
Figure 25.7. Laying a high-voltage DC link between Finland and Estonia. A pair of these cables transmit a power of 350 MW. Photo: ABB.
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