A $400 billon (£240 billion) plan to provide Europe with solar power from the Sahara desert moved a step closer to reality with the formation of a consortium of 12 companies to carry out the work. Known as the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DDI), the German-led consortium consists of some of country’s biggest engineering and power companies, along with Munich Re, the largest reinsurer in the world.
Since the project was first announced in July, the DII has gained support from a wide variety of political and governmental institutions in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
The DDI believes it can deliver solar power to Europe as early as 2015. It aims to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 or earlier via power lines stretching across the desert and Mediterranean Sea.
The solar technology involved is known as concentrated solar power, (CSP) which uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays on a fluid container. The super-heated liquid then drives turbines to generate electricity.
The technology is not new, but it is the scale of the Desertec initiative which is a first, along with plans to connect North Africa to Europe with new high voltage direct current cables which transport electricity over great distances with little energy loss.
Article by Vanessa L. Bourlier appearing courtesy of ENN
Generating power for Europe in Africa is as unreliable as it relying on Russia to supply oil and gas. Any such facility would be immediately subject to a threat damage from the fanatics (of any ilk).
Good point. But, do you see an alternative to this project? Taking solar panels into space?
Providing 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 makes this project a very important supplier of energy for Europe…
Marco, let’s just save that 15% of electrcity consumption, it will be much cheaper. Let’s produce energy where it’s used.
Indeed, that would make things much less complicated!
The world already relies on oil from Africa and the Middle East. How could this be worse? Not all North African countries are fanatical. Morocco, for example, understands very well its strategic location in terms of transportation (Port of Tanger Med) and energy. The Desertec project would also provide for desalinization for drinkable water in Africa. Obviously, carbon mitigation does include energy conservation, as well as other forms of renewable energy than just solar, but I fail to see how EU-MENA projects becomes a threat to Europe. Quite on the contrary, I think that excluding North Africa from the Mediterranean basin is inviting fanaticism.
Desertec is betting on one horse only: CSP. Within Desertec there could however be a unique opportunity to create a breathing ground for various innovative PV technologies to break through (by preference European PV technologies). Desertec has the potential to become an excellent breathing ground for such scenario. Any suggestion how we can make this happen?
First: usage of underutilized areas like deserts (or oceans, ice caps, etc) is VERY appealing, b/c the world is finite, and getting more crowded every day.
Second: Desertec is a marvelously ambitious concept in an era where we need such concepts.
However: Solar CSP requires MORE WATER THAN COAL-FIRED PLANTS. This will be a great challenge in the Sahara. PV does not work well in sandy areas – the parks in the Gulf region have thousands of people going out every day to clean the panels. Not sustainable or scalable. So we’d better bet on a few horses – for me, I’d bet on Wind Power.
Well, judging from the map they have, about 70% of all CSP facilities are close to ocean or sea shores. I’m not sure if desalination into potable water would make a difference in water requirements for CSP systems. Moreover, I do see, in Africa alone, 2 hydroelectric facilities, 6 wind farms, and 1 biomass installation (out of a total of 30 facilities — or about 20% of all North African installations).
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