Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Sahara Shared Computing

solar powered computers in Sahara sell computing power
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

There is a lot of sun in the Sahara. It is difficult to export that energy to Europe. Computing power is easy to export, you only need a fibre optic cable.

Bring a fibre optic connection to a deserted place in the Sahara.

Entrepreneurial people will flock to it, reversing the emigration towards the growing metro-poles at the coast, creating new 'harbours' in the middle of nowhere.

With solar powered computers they can sell the computing power online. In our part of the world where energy and labour is expensive it is not profitable, but over there earning 50 cents a day is worthwhile.

This is not like buying natural resources from them without any added value. The proceeds of that end up in the pockets of a corrupt elite. Instead we can buy locally produced 'green' energy converted into computing power. Individuals get paid through the network, bypassing a corrupt local administration. They cash in daily at a desk where they show their account name and enter a PIN. Except when they have been sending spam from their connection.

rrr, Jun 05 2006

Dish stirling http://www.sandia.g...-batt/Stirling.html
More efficient, more robust, perfect for this idea. The world's largest solar plant being built, is a solard dish stirling plant. [django, Jun 06 2006]

El Haddej caves - Tunisia http://www.palinstr...00/sah_232_01_l.jpg
Watch out, it's chilly in there [django, Jun 06 2006]

Sahara Wind Power Project http://www.saharawind.com/background.htm
Tuaregs know how to describe 20 types of Sahara wind - that's because there's so much of it [django, Jun 06 2006]

Google warns of spiralling energy costs http://news.com.com...1010_3-5988090.html
Peak oil, energy crisis, will cause planetary data-crisis [django, Jun 06 2006]

Silicon Valley confronting energy costs http://www.sfgate.c...ency&sn=001&sc=1000
Power now a major expense at data centers [django, Jun 06 2006]

Google's electricity consumption http://en.wikipedia...iki/Google_platform
[spidermother, Jun 06 2006]


       I had no idea it was so easy to attract entrepreneurial people. I'm gonna go walk through town trailing a fibreoptic cable out of my pocket, see how many I can catch.
moomintroll, Jun 05 2006

       I completely forgot about the overheating of the computers...   

       Marked for deletion and in a few days I will clean it up.
rrr, Jun 05 2006

       I don't know whether it's worth the communication cost, but surely one can use solar energy to power the AC for, say, an underground computing center. So, I don't actually think the AC issue is killing this.
jutta, Jun 05 2006

       You need an awful large number of solar panels to power a computer of any reasonable power level. And what are you going to do at night when your computer is still crunching but the sun is not shining. Maintnenance of Solar panels in a desert environment will be a real challenge as it will tend to eat away at the panels and thier support/ tracking systems, as well as your maintenance vehicles and staff. An Ocean based array may be a better alternative, then you could also take advantage of wave action generators and thermocline type systems. Or maybe geothermal type systems.
jhomrighaus, Jun 05 2006

       What do I do at night? Use a battery of some sort. A flywheel if you want to get fancy.

       Area needed: 1U blade ~ 500 Watt ~ 100 sqft for a modern solar panel; maybe twice that if you add AC. That's not quite worth it, but it doesn't seem outrageous.
jutta, Jun 05 2006

       This will lead to, in the spirit of case mods, customized solar panels.
normzone, Jun 05 2006

       Why not dig a deep underground room for the computers, that way they will always stay nice and cool, and they'll also be safe.
BJS, Jun 06 2006

       This is actually a brilliant idea.   

       -don't worry about the solar panels, use solar-stirling dishes instead [link], they're much more robust, they're far more efficient, they're cheaper and they survive any desert sand storm   

       -or even better, use wind power - the Sahara's excellent for this, and there's wind at night [see link]   

       -don't worry about the cooling either; there are huge natural caves in many of the huge rock and cliff formations that are found all over the Sahara (you can easily create your own caves if you have to) [link]   

       -everyone who has ever been in the Sahara knows that inside those caves it's pleasantly cool - that's where you drink your tea during your Sahara trip   

       -most importantly, you're exactly hitting the magic exchange relation: export data instead of electricity   

       Brilliant idea, one of the best I've read on the HB for years. (But that's just me).   

       I would absolutely not delete it.   

       PS: this reminds me of the debate about carbon credits versus real biomass exports from the tropics: keep the tropical biomass intact and issue carbon credits for them, which companies in Europe can buy and trade? Or export the cheap biomass directly to Europe? It's a bit like either selling the solar energy from the Sahara directly (through physical grids) or convert it into a less tangible product and sell this product. Obviously, in both cases the tendency is towards the scheme involving the less tangible products.
django, Jun 06 2006

       value added electricity! Great idea.
greyfiend, Jun 06 2006

       So now I should not delete it? Is it possible to 'unmark' an idea for deletion? Has it ever happened?   

       You are quite convincing. About the maintenance costs, you don't hire staff. You only bring the connection to the location and anyone is free to experiment endlessly and share the knowledge. It will be more like one (old) computer per family/tent, which will make an efficient 'support/tracking system'. If it is their livelihood they will find ways to protect the thing against the wind and sun. The computers can fail, be turned off at night and so on. They only are paid for the delivered computing power.   

       And indeed, the computer does not even have to solar powered. Wind or even man powered is fine also.
rrr, Jun 06 2006

       how about Wind powered computer farms in antarctica!! plenty of wind and no need for fancy cooling when overclocking.   

       or even the moon, heaps of sun (no atmosphere) very cold (no atmosphere) and on a handy satellite based package. hmm might see what people think about that if you don't mind.
greyfiend, Jun 06 2006

       Okay, a Google engineer says this:   

       "The possibility of computer equipment power consumption spiraling out of control could have serious consequences for the overall affordability of computing, not to mention the overall health of the planet." [link]   


       "Soon utilities will offer you a data center for free if you sign an electricity contract."
django, Jun 06 2006

       In an ininhabited region, who are you going to employ to turn-them-off-and-on-again?
zen_tom, Jun 06 2006

       I thought of Google too. From Wikipedea: "The biggest cost that Google faces is electric power consumption given the huge amount of computing power required. Estimates of the electric power consumption required for over-250,000 servers range upwards of 20 Megawatts which could cost on the order of 1-2 million $US per month in electricity charges."
spidermother, Jun 06 2006

       I got this idea after reading the book 'the Google Story'.
rrr, Jun 07 2006

       //"The biggest cost that Google faces is electric power consumption..."//
That was referring to the cost of running the servers. It's about ten percent of the cost of salaries, neither of which is much for a company with a higher capitalization than IBM.
ldischler, Jun 07 2006


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