`Sahara Power` needs pan-European grid operator

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Courtesy of Elektor International Media (EIM)

A consortium of leading European – mostly German – companies plans to invest €400 billion in a megaproject to generate solar power in the Sahara desert. “Desertec”, as the project is called, could cover 15 percent of European electricity demand. The problem is, how do you transport this power to Paris and Berlin? ‘It will not work without a pan-European grid operator.’

The figures for the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project Desertec are impressive: 100,000 megawatts – equal to 100 large coal-fired power stations – are to be generated on a piece of unproductive land in the Sahara, the size of a postage stamp on the globe. The European energy market is literally a cable length away – albeit a long cable. Sales are guaranteed. And CSP has already proven itself in Spain and the US.

It is for good reason that the German and international business community has embraced CSP in the Sahara. Industrial suppliers, such as Siemens and ABB, large German energy companies Eon and RWE, and solar energy companies Abengoa Solar, MAN Solar and Schott Solar, are backing Desertec. Its financial prospects look promising as insurance company Munich Re is one of the initiators and Deutsche Bank has also signed on. ‘It indicates that large parties believe in its profitability,’ says renewable energy manager Sven Teske of Greenpeace International. ‘The project has our support, of course, as well as that of other idealistic organisations such as the Club of Rome.’

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