giovedì 16 luglio 2009

Ambitious European initiative will bring solar energy from Sahara

Investing in the desert!

A consortium of European companies, mainly from Germany, starts an ambitious 400 billion plan to build giant power plants in the Sahara and the Middle East, which will cover 15% of Europe's electricity by 2050.

The draft Industrial Desertec Initiative will cover a total area of 9000 square kilometers-about-Crete as in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The collection of solar energy will occupy 2,500 square kilometers, while the rest are in an advanced distribution network.

Approximately 80% of energy supplies will be producing countries, while the remainder will be distributed in Europe.

H Desertec initiative says the French News Agency, was officially launched Monday in Munich with the signing of an agreement among 12 companies, most based in Germany. Support project also companies from Algeria and Spain, and officials in Egypt and Jordan.

It also welcomed the initiative by Greenpeace, which found that «a quarter of global electricity production could come from solar energy in deserts.


«In the Sahara, the duration of sunshine reaching the 4,800 hours a year [...] solar units will cover an area of 90,000 square kilometers could meet the energy needs of the world» appreciates the energy sector of Siemens, which involved in Desertec with solar and wind technologies and power systems.

The initiative is based on the technology of photovoltaics, which convert sunshine directly into electricity.

The design is based on thermal plants, which consist of arrays of mirrors that reflect radiation in a central focal point. From there the heat is transported through pipes to a liquid filled atmoilektriki generator that produces electricity.

The plan also provides for the construction of wind farms and desalination plants for producing countries.

Transnational action

A study completed jointly by the Desertec, Greenpeace and the environmental research institute of Voupertal estimates the project will generate around two million jobs.

It will also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, both in Europe and countries of production, and support the economies of North Africa, perhaps limiting the wave of immigration from Europe.

Obstruction in the overall project could be the huge cost of 400 billion, although the Desertec estimates that 10 billion is enough for the first phase of the project.

The cost of energy production could also be prohibitively expensive for poor countries' production and therefore the Greenpeace calls to subsidize the purchase cost.

Potential obstacle is the political instability in the region, which Desertec hopes to avoid increasing the number of participating countries and supporting their economic development.

Reservations for the initiative was the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, which described the project «eco-colonialism».