As part of its plan to shake off its unprofitable solar shackles, including Israel’s Solel initiative, German giant Siemens has exited the ambitious Desertec project. But that doesn’t seem to have deterred the strength of the initiative, which is designed to enable Europe to import one fifth of its power by 2050 from renewable energy plants scattered across Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and other North African and Middle Eastern countries, as firms in China and other countries make moves to get involved.
China’s State Grid Corp (SGCC) expressed an interest in becoming involved in the $514 billion Desertec renewable energy project, according to a conglomerate spokesperson, Reuters reports.
This news comes just after Siemens’ announcement that it is severing its solar arm, which included both the Desertec and Solel initiatives.
Energy generated by solar and wind plants in North Africa will be evacuated to Europe via cables that will run under the Mediterranean Sea, so it’s uncertain how SGCC expects to benefit from a partnership except as a shareholder. But the firm’s interest does show a growing faith that it can succeed.
Despite criticism of the project’s ambitious scope and costs, progress continues apace.
“Government representatives from Morocco, France, Italy, Malta and Luxembourg came to Berlin to sign a memorandum of understanding with Germany for a first Desertec cooperation project between EU member states and Morocco. Yet the agreement has had to be postponed due to the absence of Spain, a crucial participant,” according to a recent press release.
The Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) and the Moroccan Solar Agency Masen has been mulling over the business case for a Desertec Reference Project with Spain’s TSO Red Electrica and the European Commission for the last two years, according to the release.
“Investors have been found, initial subsidies are available, and industry wants to get involved.”
“I’m confident that the other partners in this negotiation, from Morocco and the EU states, will be able to convince Spain soon as Spain could profit a lot,” emphasized Dii CEO Paul van Son.
A 100 megawatt photovoltaic and wind power plant by RWE are already underway in Morocco, along with a 150 megawatt CSP plant, and efforts to establish agreements in sun-drenched Algeria and Tunisia, which could result in an additional two gigawatts of renewable energy generation, have been “stepped up.”
“Italy supports this plan as a strategic partner. Plans for a grid connection to the Italian electricity grid are currently being discussed in detail. This development would open up new perspectives for Italian industry.”