Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sudan Looks to the Saharan Sun for Power

Sudan looks to the Saharan sun for power

Web posted at: 3/28/2010 2:3:34
Source ::: AFP

KHARTOUM: Spread across central Africa as the continent’s largest country, Sudan plans to exploit the relentless Saharan sun to power its underdeveloped regions and green its deserts.

Harnessing the sun’s energy for vast regions such as war-torn Darfur, which itself is the size of France, is costly. But the country’s ministry of energy and mining believes that advances in solar technology will lower the costs.

“The costs are high compared to other conventional energy resources but we think that with the technology advances going on there will be a substantial decrease,” the ministry’s secretary general, Omar Mohammed Kheir, said. The plan, he said, was to develop solar energy in regions not linked to the national grid, such as North Darfur.

By harnessing clean solar power impoverished Sudan could be setting a global example in a world worried about climate change.

Sudan is the continent’s fifth largest oil producer — three fifths of its product is exported to Asia — and is multiplying its hydroelectric projects along the Nile.

But conventional energy sources alone will not meet the increasing demand of this country of 40 million people.

Earlier this month, the French company Solar Euromed signed an agreement with Sudan to build and run solar power plants over the next decade.

“Our country is developing very, very fast and we think there is a need for more electricity. That is why we have a master plan to generate about 20.000 megawatts within the coming 20 years,” Kheir said.

“The hydro power may contribute to 20 to 25 percent at maximum. The rest will come from other sources, all renewable energy including biofuel, solar energy, gas and maybe even nuclear energy.”

Sudan has already launched a plant to produce biofuels, with a target of two million litres (528,000 gallons) in two years.

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