The Sahara Solar Breeder Project, which will start from the basic research stage, has the grand goal of providing 50% of the energy used by humanity in 2050 as electrical energy converted from sunlight. The project’s leader, Professor Koinuma, calls it the Super Apollo Project.
In this initial project, it will be important to demonstrate the possibility of manufacturing high-purity silicon from desert sand and constructing a high-temperature superconducting, long-distance, DC power supply system. The aim is to achieve a solar plant with annual capacity of at least 100 GW, which would truly help to solve the world’s energy problem.
The total research expenditure will be 100 million yen (US$1.1 million) annually for five years, but that won’t be enough to complete the project. Nevertheless, we want to establish basic technology for providing an ultimate solution to the energy problem, which must be done before a global crisis occurs. While we develop technology for using desert sand to make just one ton of silicon per year, or actually build just one power plant in the desert, all sorts of problems, such as sandstorms, will arise. And we will obtain basic data for solving those problems. Regarding superconductors, to connect the power supply from the desert to the world, the cables must be cooled with liquid nitrogen in a tropical climate. So for the time being, the goal of this research will be to obtain data on issues such as how deep the superconducting pipeline must be buried to minimize temperature fluctuations