Desertec abandons Sahara solar energy export dream

small-desertec-mapThe Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) have been been the subject of many articles here. The huge project was due to generate large amounts of renewable energy from solar and wind farms in Northern Africa and bring it to Europe.

Criticism had been important as the feasability of generating up to 100 gigawatts of electricity in the Sahara to a cost of 400 billion euros (around $530 billion) was questioned.

A lethal blow to the project might have been the withdrawal in November 2012 of one of the main stakeholder, Siemens. The same month a pilot plant which is due to be built in Morocco failed to receive financial backing from the Spanish government.

Siemens hasn’t been the only one to withdraw from the project as the number of partners have collapsed from 35 to now 18 as Blue and Green Tomorrow reported.

As a result, the project was canceled, seen as “too expensive and utopian”. A major problem was the infrastructure as grids are already struggling with current renewable energy capacity. The interconnection of the national grids is also an issue.

The political stability of some local countries was also seen as a problem.

In a telephone interview with EurActiv, Dii CEO Paul van Son admitted that the project’s initial export-focus represented “one-dimensional thinking”. Fortunately, to Mr. van Son, Europe could bring up to 90 percent of its electricity needs from local renewable energy supplies.

We have seen in previous articles that local renewable energy projects could help European countries to pay back their debts. Let’s hope the end of this project won’t slow down or stop investments on solar power and wind energy on both sides of the Mediterranean sea.

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