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Desertec is a concept for making use of solar energy and wind energy in the deserts in North Africa and Middle East proposed by the Desertec Foundation. This concept will be implemented by the consortium DII GmbH/ Desertec Industrial Initiative (formed by a group of European companies and the Desertec Foundation. The Desertec concept was initiated under the auspices of the Club of Rome and the German Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC).
The DII project (Desertec Industrial Initiative) was officially launched by twelve European companies on 13 July 2009 in Munich. The foundation date is exactly one year after the 43 participants of the Union for the Mediterranean summit under French and Egypt leadership had signed the Mediterranean Solar-Plan (MSP), known in French as Plan Solaire Méditerranéen (PSM). On 30 October 2009 the DII GmbH (Desertec Industrial Initiative) was founded in Munich as a limited company under German law and Paul van Son, a senior energy executive, has been appointed its first CEO.
Under the proposal, concentrating solar power systems, PV systems and wind parks would be located on 6,500 square miles (17,000 km2) in the Sahara Desert. Produced electricity would be transmitted to European and African countries by a super grid of high-voltage direct current cables. It would provide continental Europe with 15% of its electricity. By 2050, investments into solar plants and transmission lines would be total €400 billion. The exact plan, including technical and financial requirements, will be designed by 2012.
The project is developed by a consortium of European and Algerian companies under the name DII GmbH, Desertec Industrial Initiative, founded in Munich and led by Munich Re. The project company is incorporated under German law. The consortium consists of Munich Re, TREC, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, ABB, E.ON, RWE, Abengoa Solar, Cevital, HSH Nordbank, M & W Zander Holding, MAN Solar Millennium, and Schott Solar. Press investigations point to a number of more interested parties - among them ENEL , Électricité de France, Red Eléctrica de España and companies from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. The company is supposed to create a detailed technical plan for the DESERTEC realisation and to prepare contracts for the DESERTEC supergrid that can be signed in 2012. On October 30, 2009 Paul van Son, a senior international energy manager, has been appointed CEO of DII GmbH (the Desertec Industrial Initiative).
More energy falls on the world's deserts in six hours than the world consumes in a year, and the Saharan desert is virtually uninhabited and is close to Europe. Supporters say that the project will keep Europe "at the forefront of the fight against climate change and help North African and European economies to grow within greenhouse gas emission limits". Desertec officials say the project could one day deliver 15 percent of Europe's electricity. According to the report by Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy and the Club of Rome, the project could create 240,000 German jobs and generate €2 trillion worth of electricity by 2050.
Centralized solar energy plants and transmission lines may become a target of terrorist attacks. Some experts fear that generating so much of the electricity consumed in Europe in Africa would create a political dependency on North African countries which have corruption and a lack of cross-border coordination. Desertec would require extensive economic and political cooperation between Algeria and Morocco, which is at risk as the border between the two countries is closed due a disagreement over the Western Sahara. There are also concerns that the water requirement for the solar plant to clean dust off panels and for turbine coolant may be detrimental to local populations in terms of the demand it will place on the local water supply. There is also a fear that due to the large scale cooperation necessary between the EU and the north African nations the project may be delayed due to diplomatic and bureaucratic red tape and other factors such as expropriation of assets, license agreement reneging and corruption.
- SuperSmart Grid
- Renewable energy in Morocco
- Wind power in Morocco
- Solar energy in Israel
- Relative cost of electricity generated by different sources
- High-voltage direct current
- Intermittent energy source
- Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation
- Super grid
- List of HVDC projects
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