Solar Energy from Africa strives to light up the United Kingdom

In 2009, solar energy companies began to develop an ambitious idea: to harness enough solar energy in Northern Africa to power 2.5 million British homes by 2018. This project, called TuNur, plans to transport this energy nearly 4,000 miles northeast through land lines and over 280 miles of underwater cables.

TuNur, which is headed by British Companies Low Carbon and Nur Energie, has spent €10 million on developing solar sites in Tunisia. It is now aiming to receive funding from the United Kingdom (UK) in return for providing energy to power ten percent of the nation’s homes.

As with many energy projects, there are risks involved. UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss has said that such solar panel farms would be a burden to English countryside, and could feasibly devastate English lands. Furthermore, many worry that TuNur will fail. Desertec, a previous solar energy project, hoped to accomplish the same goals as TuNur, but on a larger scale. Although at first it appeared that Desertec might succeed in using energy from desert regions to provide an estimated 15 percent of Europe’s power by 2050, the majority of Desertec’s investors ended up leaving the project, and the project did not have enough funding to continue. Opponents of TuNur argue that TuNur will most likely meet an end similar to that of Desertec. Regardless, this new project is proving to be breakthrough in the renewable energy field.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not this attempt succeeds as long as further efforts exist. Solar energy has taken more than ten years to get to where it is, and I won’t be surprised if this fails, as long as there are another ten years of development in store,” Junior Anirvin Sikha said.

In fact, the efficiency of solar cells has risen to a 30 percent, nearly double its 16 percent rate just two decades ago, and has continued to show signs of progress.

The TurNur project is another example of the positives of investing in solar energy. With financial and environmental benefits, solar energy has truly earned its bright reputation.