Saudi-Arabia announced it wants to invest massively in solar energy. Saudi-Arabia knows best how much oil it has (or rather does not have)… and is voting with it’s feet, away from oil towards solar energy. Lawrence of Arabia probably never realized how much potential solar energy gold is stored in deserts when he was underway securing oil for his masters in London, knowing that the days of the Ottoman empire were almost over.
We calculated earlier that it is enough to cover an area like Spain (500,000 km2) with solar panels in order to completely replace the planet’s energy needs. Everything: electricity, gas, oil, coal, uranium, cars, industry, everything. How big is Saudi-Arabia? More than four times Spain (2,250,000 km2), largely ‘useless’ desert. Saudi-Arabia now has two choices: sell their oil to the last drop or invest their remaining oil capital into a desert filled with solar panels… and export electricity to the West, China, India, etc. Or convert electricity into liquid fuel or gas. CH4/NG could be produced from CO2 and H2O from the atmosphere, reducing global warming. The Saudi’s could even demand a subsidy from the industrialized nations for this effort. It is the only use a desert could possibly have. And in contrast to Egypt or Algeria, Saudi-Arabia has the capital to convert this potential into (partial) reality. Maybe some Saudi smarties thought of that also and decided to make a start. There is a large uncertainty about how much oil Saudi-Arabia in reality has left. Maybe 270 billion barrel. It would take 120 billion barrel to setup a complete replacement of the world’s energy needs and Saudi-Arabia could continue to play a crucial role as the world’s energy hub. Cutting down on oil deliveries would have the additional advantage that oil prices would skyrocket. That would be bad news for western consumers, but good news for the future of the planet if these additional resources would indeed be used to set up a new solar energy based world economy. Obviously it is not to be recommended that all global solar energy production would be concentrated in the Saudi desert, but Saudi-Arabia at least has the (oil) capital to make a significant start, securing a prominent place for itself after the end of the oil age. The popular Arab saying: “My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will ride a camel“, could be replaced with: “My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will be a solar energy entrepreneur“. Other suitable places would be Australia, the Gobi desert in China, Arizona and New Mexico, the Kalahari in South-West Africa, large parts of Spain as well as the Sahara.
Why not use google maps (satellite mode) to explore the SA desert to verify it is empty.