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Oxford scientists produce world's first map of large solar power plants |  Sciences

Oxford scientists produce world’s first map of large solar power plants | Sciences

The researchers stressed the need to study the effects of a 10-fold increase in solar energy generation in the coming decades on food systems, biodiversity and the land to be devoted to it.

In light of the climate crisis we are experiencing, the importance of turning to renewable energy sources is increasing day by day. According to a report by Science Alert,flag alret) that the cost of solar photovoltaic energy has decreased since 2010 to the present day by approximately 82%, and this remarkable decrease played a prominent role in encouraging the world to produce energy systems free of emissions at a lower cost than those that run on fossil fuels.

prophesied a report Issued by the International Energy Agency of France in 2018 To increase solar PV generation capacity 10-fold by 2040; With the aim of alleviating the temperature rise from what it was before the industrial revolution to less than two degrees Celsius.

Desert solar thermal power plant in Nevada, USA (Getty Images)

Challenges and difficulties

But solar energy systems face many challenges; Including the difference in sunlight throughout the day and the variety of seasons, which calls for devising economical ways to store energy when the sun does not rise. In addition to developing a policy to ensure that solar energy reaches all parts of the earth, especially the places that need it most.

There will be inevitable trade-offs between the land on which the solar power plants are located and other uses of the same land, including conservation and biodiversity, agriculture and food systems, and communal and indigenous uses.

On October 27, the journal Nature published (temper natureA new study, issued by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, provides the first global inventory of all large solar power generation facilities on Earth.

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Huge solar farm in the Australian outback.  - stock photo Aerial view of a large solar farm in the Australian outback.  Huge solar farm in the Australian outbackHuge solar farm in the Australian outback (Getty Images)

“Large” in this case refers to facilities that generate at least 10 kilowatts; This is when the sun is at its zenith, knowing that the capacity of a typical solar system installed on the roof of a small residential house is approximately 5 kilowatts.

Lukas Crotwagen, one of the researchers involved in preparing that map, pointed out in an article on the “The Conversation” website (Conversation) – that researchers have developed a system based on artificial intelligence technology to discover the facilities of solar power plants in satellite images.

The system analyzed approximately 550 terabytes of images that covered nearly half of the Earth’s surface area, taking into account the filtering of images belonging to remote, uninhabited areas.

The study documented 68,661 solar energy facilities equivalent to 423 gigawatts of global generating capacity at the end of 2018. This result is almost identical to what was approved by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in her report For 2018, which amounted to 420 gigawatts.

Rooftop solar system on a factory building at Shanghai free trade zone - stock photoThe solar system on the roof of a factory in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (Getty Images)

Monitor the growth of solar power plants

The study showed that the capacity of solar photovoltaic generation grew by 81% between 2016 and 2018. India ranked first in this increase by 184%, followed by Turkey by 143%, then China by 120%, and Japan by 119%.

Power plant facilities vary in size from gigawatt-scale sprawling desert facilities in Chile, South Africa, India and northwest China, commercial and industrial rooftop facilities in California and Germany, to rural facilities in North Carolina and England, and urban facilities in South Korea and Japan .

Using observational data from satellites, the researchers were able to estimate the founding dates of 30% of solar power generation facilities. This data is important; As it contributes to the study of the precise conditions that promote the increase in the spread of solar energy, in addition to its role in helping governments improve subsidy plans to encourage the application of these systems on a large scale.

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The Benban solar power plant is one of the most important and largest projects accomplished by Egypt in the field of (European) solar energy.

Knowing where the facilities are also allows us to study the unintended consequences of the growth of solar generation. The study showed that solar power plants are often in agricultural areas, followed by grassy plains and deserts.

Here, the researchers pointed out the need for decision-makers to intervene in providing incentives to install solar energy generation instead of on rooftops; This reduces competition for land use or other renewable energy options.

Finally, the researchers stressed the need to study the impact that could result from increasing the capacity of solar photovoltaic generation by 10 times in the coming decades, on food systems, biodiversity and land that will be allocated for the installation of power generation systems only, away from any other practices.

Source : The Conversion + Science Alert + Websites

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