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High Voltage Direct Current transmission lines typically lose about 3% per 1000km [1]. That's quite manageable. Building a line of that length through multiple countries would take a while, but the Saudis could pull it off. They certainly have the money

1: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current

Woah, didn't realize long distance transmission was that efficient. Now I'm curious how crazy of an idea it would be to build a global solar electrical network to obviate the need for batteries (the sun is almost always shining somewhere).

On a smaller scale, putting solar panels in the Sahara Desert and run a big cable to Europe is frequently considered. Being in a desert removes most cloud cover, it's close to Europe, and the area required is miniscule even if you want to provide the entire area of Europe that way.

The only problems are that the day-night cycle still exists and storage is expensive, that it would be a massive capital investment, and that the governments of most countries in the Sahara aren't very stable.

Lybia had started doing exactly that, in 2009/2010: http://helioscsp.com/libya-unveils-project-to-supply-solar-p...

In 2011, France and the US forced a regime-change that resulted in civil war and de-facto partition of the country. I would expect most of that investment has been destroyed by now, and the security situation is unlikely to be stable enough to restart this sort of grand plan for at least a decade.

In the meantime, Morocco (faithful French ally, an absolute monarchy with extremist-Islam undertones) started its own effort, which is now considered to be the largest solar-panel plant in the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouarzazate_Solar_Power_Station

I don't know if it'll happen, but it's been proposed, e.g. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/energy/china-unveils-propos...

There was a project like that (though it failed): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec

You do have to keep in mind the further losses in converting it back to low voltage AC using very large and expensive inverters / transformers.

That's a loss that doesn't scale with range though.

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