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Europe’s $774 billion African desert solar power project launches

December 2nd, 2009 Posted in Business, General, Politics, Technology, Travel


Investors and industrialists from 14 companies met in Munich, Germany recently to formally launch Desertec Industrial Initiative, a €400 billion ($774 billion) collaborative project to provide 15% of Europe’s energy via solar power from Africa’s Sahara desert by the year 2050. Since it was formally announced earlier this year, the project has gotten mixed responses from development and renewable energy groups.

Speaking about the benefits of the project MEED Magazine writes:

Desertec’s backers say the scheme will create jobs and boost local economies. Some go so far as to claim it could even reduce the number of economic migrants to Europe. Governments on both continents will need to collaborate to define a regulatory and legislative framework for the scheme. If Desertec can overcome these hurdles, it will set a precedent for international energy co-operation.

But critics of the project also give some strong points. New Scientist Magazine writes:

Critics are lining up to point out the project’s shortcomings. They say it could make Europe’s energy supply a hostage to politically unstable countries; that Europe should not be exploiting Africa in this way; that it is a poor investment compared to covering Europe’s roofs with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels; and that, while deserts have plenty of sun, they lack another less obvious but equally indispensable resource for a solar thermal power plant – water.

Despite the debate, the project seems to be moving ahead with North African countries like Tunisia and Algeria showing support and making plans.

What do you think? Is the Desertec project good or bad for Africa and/or Europe?

More about the project and it’s launch in the videos below.

If you can’t see the videos click here

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  • Marco Puccia

    I think that to responsibly and successfully launch a project like this, there needs to be a very clear plan as to how this grid will help the countries that are hosting the solar farms! It seems a little imperialistic the way it is now, don't you think?

  • Kofi

    Agreed. The ambiguity of how the host countries will benefit from the
    project beyond “creating jobs” is one of my concerns also. In my opinion,
    there has to be a mandate for some of that energy to be directed into

    Thanks for your comment, Marco.

  • shanemiller

    Oh i have heard it after a very long time i guess…:( But still all worked well..

  • Afrimonitor - Market Research for Emerging Markets


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