When most westerners think of Libya they probably think of oil. In the future, when they play the same word association game, they might think of solar power.
The North African nation of Libya has the potential to produce more solar power than it does oil, according to a study by the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment at England’s Nottingham Trent University.
“Although Libya is rich in renewable energy resources, it is in urgent need of a more comprehensive energy strategy. It is difficult to break the dependency on oil and natural gas, not just in terms of the country’s demand for it, but also in terms of the revenues that it generates,” Amin Al-Habaibeh, a researcher at Nottingham Trent university in England, told Gasworld.
The key to this potential to generate a lot of solar energy is sunlight. Libya gets a lot of it--the equivalent 8.1 kilowatt hours per square meter in solar radiation per day. The country’s mainly desert climate also contributes to the possibility of solar power. Fewer rainclouds means more sunlight to beam down on solar panels.
The desert climate also contributes to another renewable energy source: wind. The country experiences long, hot gusts that can power wind generators.
Wind energy could play an important role in the future in meeting the total electric energy demand,” said Ahmed Mohamed, a Nottingham Trent University Ph.D. student and a native of Libya. “Several locations, including a number along the coast, experience high wind speeds which last for long periods of time.”
Potential is not enough, however. The country needs to create a viable plan.
“If Libya could harness only a tiny fraction of the renewable energy resources it has available in the form of solar and wind power, not only could it meet its own demands for energy, but also a significant part of the world’s demands by exporting electricity,” saidMohamed. “The availability of renewable energy could provide a good complement to meet peak loads and current energy demand, and this in turn can be a good reason for encouraging wind and solar energy projects in Libya.”
The findings have wider application than just Libya, and could be applied to other countries that produce oil, such as the United Kingdom, and Japan, which is an oil and gas importer.
“The significance of this study arises from the fact that the final results should be a stepping stone for other studies to find a sufficient solution to energy security and climate change in the world,” said Hafez Abdo, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Business School.