Is There Salvation in Solar Power?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted February 23, 2021

This month, news headlines across the United States have been filled with stories about Texas, where a once-in-a-century polar vortex caused dramatic power blackouts and service interruptions—as well as $16,000 electricity bills.

Our prayers go out to all those dealing with the many consequences of this devastating and deadly storm, and we also pray for a quick recovery.

A disaster like this is one of the main reasons many are turning to the power-generating potential found in the world’s deserts, specifically the Sahara in North Africa. A report from nonprofit news website The Conversation states that if this vast region were turned into “a giant solar farm,” it would be “capable of meeting four times the world’s current energy demand. Blueprints have been drawn up for projects in Tunisia and Morocco that would supply electricity for millions of households in Europe.”

The ongoing project in Morocco, for example, the Noor Complex Solar Power Plant, has four different sections and is aiming to be the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world. Its third section contains 7,000 mirrors, which “reflect the sun’s rays towards a receiver at the top” of an 820-foot tower.

America is no stranger to this idea. California’s Mojave Desert is home to a network of solar plants, called the Ivanpah Solar Plant, that generate electricity for 140,000 homes via three 459-foot towers.


Weighing the Pros and Cons

Except for the costs of the solar panels and the transmission network, solar power is relatively inexpensive energy in good supply. Additionally, no fossil fuels are burned in producing the energy, even if some are used to manufacture the panels. 

And what better place to get this solar energy from a desert that doesn’t offer much in the way of resources and livability?

There are, however, some details that get in the way of this utopian vision. The article’s authors, Benjamin Smith and Zhengyao Lu, the former an ecologist and the latter a meteorologist, write, “While the black surfaces of solar panels absorb most of the sunlight that reaches them, only a fraction (around 15%) of that incoming energy gets converted to electricity. The rest is returned to the environment as heat. … Heat re-emitted from an area this size will be redistributed by the flow of air in the atmosphere, having regional and even global effects on the climate.”

It is this extra heat that poses a big problem. While the sands of the desert are “highly reflective,” minimizing the heat impact of the sun upon the climate, solar panels are not. Covering the desert in them, you get what Smith and Lu call “a feedback loop …. that ultimately lowers surface air pressure and causes moist air to rise and condense into raindrops.” In turn, this would mean an increase of temperature locally; globally, cyclones could hit southeast Asia, while the Amazon rainforest would face drought.

There’s also the issue of the destruction of “local biodiversity.” Ivanpah, for one, has received criticism for the “6,000 birds [that] die from collisions or immolation annually while chasing flying insects around the facility’s three 40-story towers, which catch sunlight from five square miles of garage-door-size mirrors.”


God’s Environmental Solution

None of these things—our current climate crisis, the polar vortex that paralyzed Texas and other areas, the prospect of global warming from a solar farm in the Sahara Desert—were on God’s drawing board when He created the world.

On His last day of Creation, “God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:29–31).

In other words, the world God created for our first parents was complete, ready for use, and designed to perfectly sustain life forever: “Everything that He had made … was very good.” There were no catastrophes, no outages, no death.

Sin, however, entered the picture. As we read in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve each fell victim to the snares of Satan, and because of that, the perfect, unspoiled world God had created became infected with sin. And sin’s effects have been felt throughout the world ever since, including a corruptible—and corrupted—environment that is now in crisis on so many fronts.

Yet God is still sustaining this dying world. Did you know that nature has been called God’s second book? As Pastor Doug Batchelor pointed out in “The Environment,” a free, online Bible study, “The Lord speaks to us through His Creation.” And God is holding back the four winds of strife now in order to save as many as possible and to give us the privilege of laboring with Him to bring souls to the feet of Jesus. 

This earth, with all its technological inventions of salvation, will not last forever. In the new earth that God is planning for us, we won’t need the sun for its light: “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:23). That new day is coming soon!

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.
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