Desertec Kicks-off in Morocco

by / Tuesday, 24 May 2011 / Published in Smartgrid-CI Blog

Sometimes historic moments are so discreet that they pass under the radar screen undetected. This is exactly what just happened with Desertec http://www.desertec.org/en/news/events/

The European Foundation, mainly backed by a pool of German investors that includes Siemens, just planned its first project, a proof of concept that will roll out of Morocco. The tender offer for this first Desertec pilot Project will come out in 2012. The project will produce 500MW with an investment of 2 billion Euros (About $3.2B). Solar energy production is planned by 2016 and will be 400 MW thermal and 100 MW photovoltaic. The tender will be handled by Masen (Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy) for Desertec Industrial Initiative http://www.dii-eumena.com/  announced the spokesperson of the DII yesterday at a press briefing in the headquarters of the German Chamber of Commerce and industry in Morocco. He added that the site has not yet been identified but work is ongoing on that front. He explained that 80% of production is destined for Europe, Spain as a first step, while the rest will cover local consumption of 400,000 households.

This is not just another massive solar project but the first step into what could be the biggest renewable energy project and very likely, a major revolution for the world energy market. The concept presented by the Desertec Foundation is mainly based on the studies of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This project aims to cover 17% of European electricity needs by 2050, from solar energy produced in the deserts of North Africa and Near East. The cost of this investment was estimated at 400 billion Euros (About $640B). This figure is the sum total of investments for building needed thermal power plants and transmission cables of high voltage. DII’s goal is to create conditions for a rapid implementation of the Desertec concept in the MENA and European ​​countries. DII has now 55 partners from 14 countries, including 20 shareholders and 35 associated partners. Morocco is represented by Nareva, a 100% subsidiary of SNI… a royal holding.

Desertec is also the most ambitious North/South cooperation project ever. It is about harnessing the solar power generated from hot North Africa and sharing it with Europe. Several dozen of solar and wind energy farms will be spread all over the MENA region and connected to Europe through a very sophisticated transportation system. Part of the energy produced will be offered to the participating countries in the MENA. Many of these countries that are facing very fast demographic growth have no or little energy resources. For them, Desertec will be a formidable development lever.
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