Global warming, Climate Changes, Climate Threats, CO2 capture, CO2 uptake, Carbon sequestration , Climate change, Solar Power, Solar Energy, Pumped-Storage Power Plant, Desalination, Irrigation, Forestation, Deserts, Arid Land, An Inconvenient Truth, Deforestation, Disaster Mitigation, Mitigate, Self-sustained, Subtropical, Albedo, Conifer Forest, Boreal, ETTE, Gunnar Ettestøl, Vegårshei, Norway

Solar energy:
              The climate threat's counterforce.

We can produce fresh water for irrigation to make arid landscapes green and provide food for all peoples . We can develop huge green energy forests in deserts to bind carbon in grand scale and make the world cooler.
We can produce large amount of electricity in subtropical zones with pumped-storage solar power plants. All for a reasonable cost with the use of Solar Energy, for the future prosperity of the humanmity.

By Gunnar Ettestøl, Msc., Vegårshei, Norway,
May 7. 2007  updated   December 16. 2007 and in 2009   ( Home )     ( Norsk tekst )     e-mail:   gunnar[a]

The Earth used more than 500 million years to build its layers of fossil energy. Now, the humans of the Earth may consume most of the remaining fossil energy resources in 500 years, with catastrophic climate changes as a result. And the climate changes can have serious impacts on the world's economy and large groups of people within decades.

Why do we do so little to change our habits and take initiatives against the increasing global warming? Everything seems to show that we are forced to use our entire collective knowledge to carry out drastic actions against the climate changes.
And the initiatives ought to be carried out where they have the most positive local effects, at the same time as the effects against global warming are beyond dispute.

The most important initiatives are:
 -  Comprehensive forestry programmes in tropical and subtropical dry land and deserts for CO2-uptake.
 -  Building of solar power plants in large scale to replace fossil energy.

Sunny and arid regions of the world have become dry and inhospitable and suffer from deforesting. And the world's deserts are becoming increasingly bigger and the destruction of the world's rainforests continues.
We are letting this happen although the world has both competence and capital to stop this by contributing to the conservation of the rainforests and develop new forestation programmes in sparsely populated and non-populated dry regions.
But comprehensive plans for forestation even in non-populated desert land can be met along with limitations and objections as a consequence of political and social conditions.

Norway and other northern countries can expand their forestland with an increase in the binding of CO2 without conflicts. But the forest growth is lower in the north and thus the CO2-binding is appreciably inferior here than compared to the tropics. And conifer forests in the boreal zone have a low albedo so new forestation here may in total contribute to local and global warming - instead of cooling.
Broadleaf forests with light green foliage can contribute to an increase in albedo in all seasons, and in particular in a snow-covered landscape during winter. Selection of broadleaf trees for bright energy forests, with good growth in boreal regions, should have high priority for agricultural authorities and forest researchers in northern countries.

All over the world scientists and politicians argue about how make effective systems for CO2 capture and deposition of the emissions from large industry and power plants. And some scientists claims that they can split 2 CO2 into 2 CO + O2 with a semiconductor catalyst and solar energy. And techniques are being developed to use CO2 and ammonia to convert salt from seawater into sodium carbonate and other bi-products, to desalinate seawater for irrigation.

But the world will for many years be bound up to consume oil, coal and natural gas in large scale while the greenhouse effects build up.

The world's nations and industries are not yet replacing their use of fossil energy sources with solar energy in large scale. However, manufacturers of electric solar cells and panels are today extending their production plans to meet large future demand.

The world's poorest countries are amid the richest for solar energy, and large-scale solar energy installations can give them a great increase in prosperity if the solar energy price is right.
And grand scale production of electricity with solar power in dry subtropical regions can be transferred to temperate regions to replace energy from coal, oil and natural gas.

Subtropical regions of the world include Mexico, southern part of USA and Europe, the Middle East, Asia south of the Himalayas, southern parts of China, parts of Australia and South America. And of course South- and North-Africa.

The world's nations possess large competence in forestation, desalination, hydropower and solar energy production. We can capitalize this knowledge to make the world better.

We can make big new green ranges in non-populated subtropical desert land with a massive aiming at transformation of salt water into fresh water with the help solar energy. And with the use solar energy we can divert abundant water from rivers for irrigation of arid land or deserts. And not the least: We can preserve and rehabilitate the rainforests.

Solar powered vacuum boilers and compressors can be used for desalination.
The salt water is transported in pipes to the desalination unit, which is heated with solar energy along with compressor engines directly powered by solar energy. Concentrated salt water is returned to deeper seawaters in pipes.
The fresh water can be distributed in pipes or aqueducts with pumps powered by wind or solar energy. The fresh water cannot be used as potable water unless it is first mineralised.
Electric solar panels are not competitive today for the powering of compressor engines, but can be an alternative when the price per 1 kWh comes under 6.8 US cents. The vacuum boilers have a simpler duty cycle than the reverse osmosis process, when solar energy is the main energy source.

To plant a field of 10 square kilometres in a dry land or desert, a fresh water supply of 0.8 cubic metre per second is needed for spot irrigation in 8 hours per day. The area can be doubled for the same amount of water when using a clay additive at the start of irrigation.

The desalination installation needs an available effect from sun of about 20000 kW for the desalination itself, and about 2000 kW for the running of the pumps for water transport (with a total head of 100 m).
An installation, which can produce water enough for a plantation of 10 square kilometres on dry land or desert, may cost about 9 million USD, or converted to about 900 USD per decare (1000 square meters). The cost for pipelines and local water tubes comes in addition. The yearly operating cost will be about 4% of the investment.
Large-scale production, price competition and active local contributions may bring the total costs down at about 750 USD per decare.
With the use of a clay additive the cost per may be lowered to about 500 USD per decare.

The fresh water is cleaner than rainwater, and the irrigation gives no deposits of bad mineral salts. Establishing big new forest fields will humidify the local climate and also feed the ground water supplies. This will imply that adjacent fields can get natural new vegetation.
Local clouds may build up and give rainfalls, and the clouds are causing the albedo to rise and the net sun radiation decreases. This gives new opportunities for farming, and production of energy forests in large scale along with work and prosperity for people who will live there.

Large solar powered pumps can be used in regions of the world with big rivers to transport excessive water into other dry areas for forestation. But the water in the rivers is normally a little salty. Irrigation with salty or contaminated river water is therefore only suitable for farming and forestation if a sufficiently humid and self-sustained local climate can be established before the soil is too contaminated by the river water.

When the conditions for a self-sustained local climate are fulfilled, the desalination and irrigation installations can be taken down and used elsewhere.

But the equipment needed for the constructions are not designed, and an extensive research effort must be done.
Research and development costs:
Desalination plant, prototype, with a capacity of about 200 litres per second, min 27 million USD.
Full scale desalination pilot installation with a capacity of about 800 litres per second, about 30 million USD.

Here in Norway has it come to light that separation and deposit of CO2 from a natural gas power station will cost about 1.1 billion USD.

With 1.1 billion USD and the use of desalination installations in a desert, we can give the world up to 1400 square kilometres of new green forests in a few years, when 10 square kilometres cost about 8 million USD. The area can be increased to about 2200 square kilometres by using a clay additive at the start of irrigation.

Up to year 2000, more than 150 000 square kliometres rainforest is destroyed per year - equivalent to half of Norway's land area - all due to human actions. Figures from international organizations and the Stern-review show that it will cost about 10 billion USD to stop the deforestation of the world's rainforests.
The preservation of rainforests is the most cost effective initiative for CO2 binding - but it is not enough.

And for 55 billion USD per year we could give the world a new forest area of 70000 square kilometres. Again, the area can be increased to about 110 000 square kilometres with the use of clay additive at the start of irrigation.

However, the use of large quantities of clay (Desert Control) or bio-membrane (AlbedoTech) additives for forest expansion needs further studies.

With the use of solar powered pumps for irrigation with river water, the forest area can be increased appreciably, and with lower costs than with the use of desalination installations alone. And in total a real lifesaving increase in the world's natural CO2 uptake, and the tropics become cooler.

After 30 years with forestation in tropical and subtropical regions, the CO2-uptake is declining and the forests need rejuvenation. But then the world has great new reserves of bio-energy to replace fossil energy. And we have got new large fertile fields and time to convert other renewable energy sources.

Electricity supply with solar powered pumped-storage plant.

Mass production of solar collectors with direct drive of thermo-mechanical engines also opens for electricity production in large scale, especially where pumped-storage plants can be built. This means that the ground above solar collector plant must be suitable for building a reservoir for a conventional hydroelectric power station. It is favourable to combine the pumped-storage plant with desalination or purification plant, or irrigation installations for river water. This kind of power plant is very suitable for construction in tropical or subtropical regions.

With a received power of nearly 1 kW per square meter, 1 square kilometre of solar collector area will give a power output of 200.000 kW when about 20 percent of the solar energy can be used. Or recalculated to 0.5 TWh per square kilometre per year.
Large electrical solar cell arrays can be built to a cost of about 3.6 USD per watt, equivalent to an energy price of 17.5 US cents per kWh at a depreciation time of 20 years. A solar cell power plant with daytime output of 200.000kW will cost more than 715 million USD, without pumped-storage facilities and distribution systems.

When the low cost solar collector systems for direct drive of engines comes into mass production, the above solar energy driven pumped-storage plant can be built at a cost of about 270 million USD, without distribution systems.
The cost represents an energy price at about 6.8 US cents per kWh + costs of grid connections, when the depreciation time for the installation is set to 15 years.

But forestation and electricity production with solar energy in other countries must not take away our focus on reducing our own consumption of energy from fossil sources.


The most effective initiatives we can take to reduce the climate threat are:
 -  Grand scale forestation in non-populated dry tropical and subtropical regions with water production driven by solar energy.
 -  Grand scale electricity production in subtropical regions with pumped-storage plants driven by solar energy, for the replacement of fossil energy.

Papers for further reading, links:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ,

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 17. Nov. 2007, Summary for policymakers:

WORKING PAPER 2007-03, Carbon Sequestration in Forest, G. Cornelis van Kooten, Susanna Laaksonen-Craig, Yichuan Wang, Dept of Economics, Univ of Victoria, Canada.

Collection of articles from Dr. James E. Hansen, Columbia Univ. NY, USA, 2002 - 2007:

Papers on cloud albedo control, desalination and other things from Dr. Stephen Salter, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design, School of Engineering and Electronics University of Edinburgh, Scotland, May 2007:

Analysis of mechanical vapour compression desalination process:Hisham Ettouney, Hisham El-Dessouky, Yousef Al-Roumi, Chemical Engineering Department, Kuwait University, Kuwait,March 1999 :

Two Cylinder Stirling Engine,2009, Animated Engines, Matt Keveney.:

Arizona Renewable Energy Assessment, September 2007, Final Report, B&V Project Number 145888:

Trans-Mediterranean Interconnection for Concentrating Solar Power, German Aerospace Center, Stuttgart, Juni 2006

Clay additive, Climate Control by Ground Treatment, Desert Control Inc, Stavanger, Norway :