Jump to content

Massive European Solar Project Set for Launch


Farin

Recommended Posts

A German-led consortium wants to fund an international solar-energy plan to the tune of €400 billion. The idea is to gather solar heat in North Africa and send the electricity to Europe. If it works, it would be the largest green-energy project in the world.

[smaller]SpiegelOnline | 06/16/2009 | Link[/smaller]

An ambitious German-led project to supply Europe with solar energy from the deserts of North Africa will start with a meeting on July 13, an executive from the German insurance giant Munich Re told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday. The project involves a consortium of about 20 firms -- including Siemens, Deutsche Bank, and energy companies like RWE -- and will cost €400 billion ($555.3 billion), according to Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek.

Jeworrek said the initiative aimed to "present concrete plans in two to three years' time," and start the flow of energy to Europe within a decade. Munich Re will lead the project, and the meeting in July will formally establish the group.

The consortium plans to fund a project called Desertec, which envisions relatively low-tech solar thermal power -- using mirrors in the desert to heat up water, which drives turbines in a local power plant -- rather than an array of high-tech photovoltaic cells.

Jeworrek declined to list all 20 members of the new funding group, but said the German Economy Ministry and the Club of Rome, a non-governmental organization based in Zürich, were also involved.

From the Maghreb to Europe

The Desertec plan requires a new grid of high-voltage transmission lines from the Maghreb desert to Europe. No new technology needs to be developed, according to Hans Müller-Steinhagen, who works at the German Aerospace Center and has researched the feasibility of Desertec for Germany's Environment Ministry. The idea has existed for years, but the high cost of building the infrastructure has kept investors away.

Müller-Steinhagen told SPIEGEL ONLINE last year that similar power plants have operated in the American west for years, and work on independent plants has started in Spain, Algeria, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. But the projects have languished, in part because of the price of oil. "After the solar thermal power plants were built in California and Nevada," Müller-Steinhagen said, "people lost interest in solar thermal power because fossil fuels became unbeatably cheap."

Jeworrek said the new initiative, which promises to be the largest green-energy project in the world, could provide around 15 percent of Europe's energy needs. But German firms can't do it alone -- Desertec would require cooperation among a number of different governments and firms. One important prerequisite, Jeworrek suggested, was political stability. "We're very optimistic about Italy and Spain," he said.

Desertec was developed by a network of scientists and politicians called the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC). Last year French President Nicolas Sarkozy indicated interest in the idea -- and in working with Mediterranean nations in general -- but Jeworrek reserved judgment on French participation. "The French are still relying heavily on nuclear energy," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday.

msm -- with wire reports

-------------------------

PS make sure to click the link so that you can see the picture gallery on the site

PPS maybe that's only interesting for me, because we just recently discussed exactly this subject in Uni - with a "well, theoretically that's possible" additude...

€400 billion, huh? crisis? what crisis? ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's the matter with them? for 400 billion, I can make my own fusion reactor :P

solar energy ain't the future..

the problem is that (cold) fusion power doesn't exist yet, while CSP is already well tested and commercially available

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but I believe we still have some 20 years of oil n stuff, so I hope they figured it out by then.

There are also wild speculations to gain energy from space (background radiation etc).

Fusion doesn't have radioactive waste though Tim, fusion would mean creating helium from hydrogen. The waste here would be not to blow balloons with the helium :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly, all power plants work kind of in the same way: you need a hot source to get steam and drive turbines to generaty electricity.

Nowadays hot sources mainly come from charcoal and nuclear fission.

Btw this solar project was in the newspaper today, it looks quite impressive :o

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but I believe we still have some 20 years of oil n stuff, so I hope they figured it out by then.

you're quite optimistic - I would guess it would take that long from having a working prototype to an actual commercial power plant ;)

and, afaik, they didn't even manage an actual controlled fusion process yet, let alone using it to get some power from it...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you're quite optimistic - I would guess it would take that long from having a working prototype to an actual commercial power plant ;)

and, afaik, they didn't even manage an actual controlled fusion process yet, let alone using it to get some power from it...

I believe in the power of scientific and technologic development. Maybe I'm stating myself too extreme. It's just that I don't think it's useful to invest that much money into solar energy. Also, as S2V stated, this makes Europe highly dependant from the Sahara. I'm not sure that's a good idea, That part of Africa is quite stable, but still not 100% secure.

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe in the power of scientific and technologic development.

Me too, no doubt about it :)

I just don't think it's possible to have a commercially available product finished in 20 years, while the scientific research about it have been going on for 50 years.

I can tell you that even if we had a prototype plant now, it would already take about that long to do a long term test drive...

Maybe I'm stating myself too extreme. It's just that I don't think it's useful to invest that much money into solar energy.

I read in a continuing article that this amount of money is actually the total budget for the whole project - which would be concluded around 2050 - still an awful lot of money, that's true

but all in all, I think it's a good idea to not just concentrate on one possible source of power, but to develop all kinds of possibilities. :)

Also, as S2V stated, this makes Europe highly dependant from the Sahara. I'm not sure that's a good idea, That part of Africa is quite stable, but still not 100% secure.

True, of course that's one thing they have to have a close look on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...