More setbacks for Middle East solar or the only way a big dream can move ahead? DESERTEC has canceled its commercial partnership to build a solar super-grid with Dii GmbH, according to a press release issued by DESERTEC.
DESERTEC was set up as a non-profit entity to create a pan Middle Eastern and North African energy grid that would link to Europe. It would generate energy where sun is aplenty, and send a portion of it northward.
The NGO founded in 2009, but envisioned much earlier, joined forces with Dii, a consortium of companies to get commercial opportunities off the ground.
In recent months, critics have questioned whether the ambitious plan had crumbled in failure following Spain’s failure to back Morocco’s first DESERTEC CSP plant and Siemens’ exit.
DESERTEC Foundation pulled out of the consortium due to “irresolvable disputes” over future strategies and obligations.
The group also said they want to “avoid being dragged into the maelstrom of negative publicity about the management crisis and disorientation of the industrial consortium.”
Yet we can’t help but notice that not much has come to completion despite DESERTEC’s lofty goals.
“It was always clear to us that our idea of producing electricity from the deserts on this earth was never an easy task and will always face extreme challenges,” the statement reads.
In addition to the logistical challenges of linking power stations in North Africa via subsea cables under the Mediterranean Sea, the region has been beset with political turmoil over the last two years.
Previously enthusiastic about reducing reliance on energy imports, governments in Egypt and Tunisia especially have had new priorities given the continued socio-political unrest.
Less impacted by the Arab Spring uprisings, Morocco has continued to pursue its renewable energy ambitions.
As owner of the DESERTEC “brand,” the non-profit organization assures the press that they are the guardian of the concept. With any luck, its new-found freedom will give the project new wings.
Read more about the DESERTEC project: