Thursday, March 07, 2024

Britain To Harvest Power From Sahara Solar Farms Using 700ft Ship? Another Green Dream


World’s biggest cable-laying vessel will link Moroccan renewables with Devon substationread a headline in a UK mainsteam news website recently. A project to feed power from the Sahara Desert to Britain moved a step closer to fruition as its financial backers prepare to commission the giant cable-laying ship.

Sahara Solar Farms


A purpose built 700ft long cable laying vessel will, according to the plan, lay four parallel cables linking solar and wind farms spread across the desert in Morocco with a substation in Alverdiscott, a tiny village near the coast of north Devon. A cable 1400 miles (2,200 Km) long under some very wild parts of the Atlantic ocean? What could go wrong?

On paper it sounds a great idea but the practical side isn't quite a simple.

We live in a world that is becoming more unstable by the day with wars in Ukraine, and the Middle East, the Red Sea becoming a no go zone for European and American shipping, and food and energy security threatened on all sides. 

The question that probably has not been asked because it should have been asked first is who will have political control of this part of the Sahara in say 10 years time when this project is completed? Morocco is a reasonably stable country by African standards but if tensions between the Islamic world and the west continue to increase who knows how Morroccans will feel about selling their sunshine to a hostle power. Have the people seeking to make a quick buck out of the cable considered that the political control and turmoil engulfing the Suez canal now was a problem mooted when it was built. The Suez crisis was only 70 years ago, but thanks to television and the internet people have short memories.

Even so it is not unreasonable to expect the people promoting this idea to have heard of the disruption caused to trade (particularly oil and gas shipments, by the current problems in the Red Sea region. 

Would the money be better off invested on modular nuclear reactors?

Reports revealed that Xlinks, the company behind the project, expects the ship to cost several hundred million pounds (ah, so it isn't built yet?) and be capable of carrying 200 miles of power cables, coiled and ready for deployment on the seafloor.

If the scheme ever progresses beyond the planning stage the cable link is expected to deliver about 3.6 gigawatts of electricity to the UK’s national grid – equating to about 8pc of total power demand.

James Humfrey, new chief executive of subsidiary Xlinks First, said the vessel would lay two 100-mile lengths of cable at a time, then head back to the UK for the next two lengths.

On returning it would pick up the cable ends, connect them to the next lengths and repeat the process. Commissioning of the ship is expected later this year.

The ship is expected to cost several hundred million pounds and be capable of carrying 200 miles of power cables Credit: XLCC

Mr Humfrey said: “This will offer a near constant, clean and affordable supply of electricity to the UK and play a key role in Morocco and the UK’s future prosperity.” The Xlinks scheme involves laying cables carrying high voltage direct current power along the coasts of Spain, Portugal and France, coming ashore in North Africa.There, they will connect with seven solar farms and up to 1,000 wind turbines built across an area of Moroccan desert roughly the size of greater London.

Just over two years ago at the time of writing, many European nations and EU member states were keeping energy costs down and their economies competitive by importing cheap gas and oil from Russia. When war broke out in Ukraine economic sanctions on Russia cut off that source of fuel for  industry and commerce, thus the economies of countries that had become dependent on cheap Russian imports were hit harder by the sanctions than the intended target, with Germany being transformed from an industrial powerhouse to the 'sick man of europe' as its economy slipped into recession.

The project will link solar and wind farms spread across the desert in Morocco Credit: Fadel Senna/AFP

Are we prepared to again tie our economic stability and prosperity to a source that can be immediately cut by hostile nations (as shown by a certain gas pipeline recently)?? Britain and other west European nations need to build a resilient low cost energy system while commissioning the construction of Small Nulcear Reactors quickly and removing NIMBY and ecoloon impediments.  

There is nothing technically unworkable about laying international undersea cables, defenders of this scheme and followers of The Church of Scienceology Cult will be quick to point out there are SEVERAL different cables like this across the channel and North Sea already - carrying 25% of UK electricity supply from cheaper Norwegian hydroelectric, Danish, Dutch Irish or Belgium wind or French Nuclear that we have to import due to the shortfally caused by underperforming 'sustainables'..  

The difference is Denmark, Norway and The Netherlands are friendly nations. Morocco? A date palm republic. I don't think they grow bananas there. Electricity may be cheap to produce in Norway, Denmark etc. but those producers make us long suffering consumers in the UK pay premium rates for it. Do you really think Moroccan solar farm operators will be giving their energy away once they know we are dependent on it to keep the lights on and the wheels turning.

The biggest political flaw in the scheme is that we would extend dependency on external sources, and sources that are not as politically reliable as those across the Channel or The North Sea. Protecting cables in the well patrolled English Channel and North Sea is a somewhat different proposition to protecting much longer cables under 1300 miles the open seas of the Atlantic.It has been noted that Russian vessels have been monitoring the location of all these cables, plus the connections from offshore wind farms recently? It's unlikely that this action was merely idle curiosity. 

 REPORT - Houthis Knock Out Several Undersea Internet Cables In Red Sea - Zero Hedge

There are new reports saying Yemen's Houthis have knocked out several underwater telecommunications cables linking Europe and Asia, however accounts of the extent of damage remain conflicting.

Multiple Israeli publications are reporting Monday that four underwater communications cables between Saudi Arabia and Djibouti have been damaged in recent months - the result of Houthi sabotage. The reporting appears to have originated in Israel's financial daily outlet Globes.

Energy self-sufficiency is guaranteed for at least decades if our political leaders could muster sufficient testicular fortitude to stand up to the ecoloons and give the order to exploit on-shore shale gas and offshore gas and oil wells as well as the vast reserves of coal on with our island sits.. Wind and solar plus essential back-up for when the wind refuses to blow and the sun does not shine is just too expensive to consider during a climate non-crisis. Check the data against modelled predictions. 


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