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This is what scientists from China, Italy and the USA agree on. In the magazine Science they revealed that solar plants and windmills built up in the Sahara would not only generate green energy for the whole world. In addition to that they could also cause an increasing amount of rain in this region.

Optimal base for green energy

There is no other place which is an as optimal base for solar power and windmill-powered plants as the Sahara. Year-round it has a reliable insolation, little vegetation and therefor a lot of wind. Out of this could result a huge amount of green energy, which could also be used for sea demineralisation plants. Furthermore it brings the opportunity to gain more rain for the Sahara itself and also for the Sahel in the south.

More rain and vegetation

In order to reach this effect, it would be necessary to cover 20 percent of the surface of the Sahara. In this case the photovoltaics would darken the light surface of the desert. As a consequence the atmospheric layer would grow warmer and could therefor absorb more humidity. Through the windmills this effect would be even amplified as they mix the air layers and reduce the air resistance.
The results would be a warming of one to two degree Celsius and, because of the additional humidity, more rain. More plants would grow and would increase the effects once again, as the new vegetation cover would darken the surface and would slow down the wind as well.

Effects of human activity

However, most parts of the Sahara would stay arid. But still, the people in the south of the desert would be profiting of the newly created cultivated land.
The problem remaining is that the Sahel is coined on grazing. In order for the model to work, the vegetation would not be allowed to be affected by human activity. This includes for example the common overgrazing in this area.

So it remains to be seen if the solar plants and windmills in the Sahara are just an Intellectual game or a realistic plan.

Story by: Tabea Marte/