In just six hours, the deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind produces in a year, and Desertec is harnessing it.
Right now hundreds of people are gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland making the same kind of noises about the security of our future as the suits at COP 17 – mostly aimless. In the meantime, real people are doing real work to confront the day-to-day challenges of climate change and energy poverty, including the folks at Desertec. One of the most progressive organizations of our time founded in 2009, the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) is slowly turning the Middle East and North African region into a serious solar powerhouse. Here is a roundup of the first four deals that make our energy future seem significantly more secure.
Desertec’s first link in the chain will be a 500 MW solar power project that will begin construction in Morocco at an estimated cost of $US 2.8 billion. ”Construction is to start in 2012,” Ernst Rauch of Munich Re, initiator of the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), told Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview. Electricity production is expected to start as early as 2014 but certainly no later than 2016.
Desertec signed an agreement to strengthen co-operation with MedGrid, the other most ambitious renewable energy consortiums in the region that has as many as 20 Mediterranean countries studying how to export 5 GW of power to Europe which involves numerous technical, economic and institutional challenges. MedGrid’s CEO André Merlin said of the deal that, “The electrical interconnections are vital for the development of renewable energies in the Middle-East and Maghreb countries… I am therefore very pleased by the cooperation agreement signed today between Dii and Medgrid, and I sincerely thank the European authorities for their support.”
Algeria‘s state-owned Sonelgaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dii to export solar energy developed their country. The 3rd such deal to date, Algeria has pledged to derive as much as 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, on which it is willing to spend a whopping $20 billion!
The 4th Desertec deal is also the most ambitious: Tunisia has recently announced that it will build the largest-ever solar plant in the world – for 2,000 MW of solar power. This project is six times the size of the largest solar CSP project ever built and over four times larger than the biggest power plant of any type in Tunisia, a 471 MW gas power plant. Susan reported earlier today, “The huge 2 GW TuNur Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (CSP) plant from the Mediterranean solar developer – and founding member of MedGrid – Nur Energie will produce solar power daytimes in the hot Tunisian sun using heliostats – mirrors mounted on steel poles reflecting sun into a receiver – and store some of the heat in molten salts, to use for further delivery of electric power by night.”
top 2 images via Desertec