Tapping into the Sahara Desert's vast solar power potential (not to mention wind power) seems like a great idea -- and the first solar power project of the massive Desertec project is scheduled to start construction soon. But should concentrating solar power using wet-cooling become the go-to technology, it would suck up 20% of the region's already dwindling water supply.
As Anthony Patt from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis rightly says, "That is simply not possible."
Green Prophet sums up Dr Patt's concerns:
Water withdrawals in the region already amount to twice what the water cycle can reasonably handle. Instead of withdrawing a sustainable 50 billion cubic meters of water each year, North African countries are withdrawing 100 billion cubic meters. Some of that is being taken from the Nile River, but much of it is being drawn from fossil aquifers that will never be recovered.
Dr Patt went on to say that if dry-cooling technologies are used at the planned concentrating solar power plants it would require just 2% of the available water -- less than is currently used by the fossil fuel industry in the region.