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Plans for massive desert solar power project set in motion

african-dunesTwelve companies today signed a memorandum of understanding in Munich to establish the DESERTEC Industrial Initiative (DII), a massive solar-power installation in the deserts of North Africa.

The initiative aims to analyse and develop the technical, economic, political, social and ecological framework for desert-based, carbon-free power generation. The DESERTEC concept, developed by the TREC Initiative of the Club of Rome, describes the perspectives of a sustainable power supply for all regions of the world with access to the energy potential of deserts.

The founder companies of the DII, whose regional focus is on Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), include ABB, Abengoa Solar, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Münchener Rück, M+W Zander, RWE, Schott Solar and Siemens. The companies intend to establish a planning entity whose shareholders will include the DESERTEC Foundation.

Participants in the initiative expect to draft concrete business plans and associated financing concepts, as well as initiate industrial preparations for building a large number of networked solar thermal power plants distributed throughout the MENA region. The goal is to produce sufficient power to meet around 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity requirements and a substantial portion of the power needs of the producer countries.

All of the DII’s activities will be aimed at developing viable investment plans within three years.

Besides the business opportunities for the companies, the initiative promises other potential economic, ecological and social benefits, including:

  • Greater energy security in the EU/MENA countries;
  • Growth and development opportunities for the MENA region as a result of substantial private investment;
  • Safeguarding the future water supply in the MENA countries by using excess energy for seawater desalination; and
  • Reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, thus making a significant contribution to achieving the climate change targets of the European Union and the German Federal Government.

Other companies are expected to join the DII once the company has been established. The aim is for the DII to include shareholders from a variety of different countries.

“The partnerships that will be formed across the regions as a result of the DESERTEC project will open a new chapter in relations between the people of the European Union, West Asia and North Africa,” said His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.

Added Max Schön, president of the German Association of the Club of Rome, “The establishment of the DII is a giant leap by industry for the lasting protection of human life.”

1 Comment

  • Uncle B
    Posted August 15, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Strangely enough, original roving civilizations found resources, then settled around them! I see large solar powered underground desert communities, at first, to do maintenance and repairs on these new developments, but later on, tunneling out whole growing areas for food, and complete with shopping Molls and electric cars! Once under the sand, and supplied with air by electric pumps, life in the cool desert sands might suit white folk very well! Imagine having the solar/electric power to exploit the cold desert nights, cooler depths in the sands, and powered from the hot surface sunshine! Europeans may soon be encouraged to live like this in the Sahara!

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