Friday, December 07, 2007

How Africa's Desert Sun Can Bring Europe Power

Europe is considering plans to spend more than £5bn on a string of giant solar power stations along the Mediterranean desert shores of northern Africa and the Middle East.

More than a hundred of the generators, each fitted with thousands of huge mirrors, would generate electricity to be transmitted by undersea cable to Europe and then distributed across the continent to European Union member nations, including Britain.

Billions of watts of power could be generated this way, enough to provide Europe with a sixth of its electricity needs and to allow it to make significant cuts in its carbon emissions. At the same time, the stations would be used as desalination plants to provide desert countries with desperately needed supplies of fresh water.

The Desertec project envisages a ring of a thousand of these stations being built along the coast of northern Africa and round into the Mediterranean coast of the Middle East. In this way up to 100 billion watts of power could be generated: two thirds of it would be kept for local needs, the rest - around 30 billion watts - would be exported to Europe.

Europe would provide initial funds for developing the solar technology that will be needed to run plants as well as money for constructing prototype stations. After that, banks and financial institutions, as well as national governments, would take over the construction programme, which could cost more than £200bn over the next 30 years.

At present electricity generated this way would cost around 15-20 eurocents (11 to 14p) a kilowatt-hour - almost twice the cost of power generated by coal. However, Desertec's backers say improvements over the next decade should bring the cost of power from its plants to less than 10 eurocents a kilowatt-hour, making it competitive with traditionally generated power.
I wonder how the costs of this energy compares with renewable energy generated in Germany with all of their subsidies. If this is cheaper seems like a better way to go.

via Guardian via TreeHugger and Worldwide Sawdust


Michael said...

There is a new world wide web emerging right before our eyes.

It is a global energy network and, like the internet, it will change our culture, society and how we do business. More importantly, it will alter how we use, transform and exchange energy.

For more information, see

Anonymous said...

How will Africa benefit from all this? afterall this was the original idea to expand the desert in Africa, they are making the continent became hot and hotter to steal the energy. What will the African benefit from all this?

Fat Knowledge said...

Africans can rent the land the power plants will be on and/or build the plants themselves and sell the electricity to the Europeans. There will also be maintenance jobs on the power plants for Africans.

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