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Japan Eyes Desert Solar Energy

Desertec is partnering with the Japanese Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) to promote the creation of a new smart electric grid to connect solar power from deserts in Mongolia and China, to cities across East Asia, including rapidly emerging markets such as Vietnam.

Dr. Tomas Kåberger, JREF Executive Board Chair says, “Technologies to harness solar and wind energy have improved dramatically in the last few years. Combined with modern power transmission technologies, renewable energy can support the long-term economic prosperity of the region.”

The United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Mongolian National Renewable Energy Center estimates that Mongolia has a potential renewable energy capacity of 2.6 million megawatts. According to Bloomberg, that much power is seven times more than all the world’s operational nuclear reactors.

The Gobi Desert has the potential to be the third largest global source of solar energy. The desert also experiences steady, strong wind speeds making it an ideal site to promote wind power as well. The drawback of the Gobi is that it is extremely isolated.

Kåberger adds: “Establishing an Asian Super Grid will be challenging and require a high-level of international collaboration but its benefits make it worth the effort.”

The grid would use special transmission lines with low power leakage levels that enable utilities to distribute power over thousands of kilometres.

JREF was formed in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident to promote the development of renewable energy in the country. The disaster has also prompted an increase in solar module manufacturing in Japan.

Research analyst Fatima Toor, notes: “Expect to see a major rise in market share from Japanese  and Korean suppliers, while European module manufacturers struggle with financial woes and reduced government incentives for solar in Europe.”

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