This image, which has gone viral on Tumblr, comes from
“Eco-balance of a Solar Electricity Transmission from North Africa to Europe”, a diploma thesis by Nadine May at the Techniucal University of Braunschweig.
As the thesis shows, the area required for the panels is far from the only consideration. For example, there are the environmental impacts of overhead lines, underground cables, and submarine cables.
2. In the thesis, May writes:
These considerations only serve to point at the large potential of this energy
resource and technology respectively. It should not give the impression [that this is] the only option for the expansion of renewable energies.
3. However, she concludes:
The general statement can be formulated that, from an ecological point of view, nothing is opposed to the expansion of solar thermal energy in North Africa and a transmission of the generated solar electricity to Europe.