Twenty blue chip German companies are pooling their resources with the aim of harnessing solar power in the deserts of north Africa and transporting the clean electricity to Europe.
The businesses, which include some of the biggest names in European energy, finance and manufacturing, will form a consortium next month. If successful, the highly ambitious plan could see Europe fuelled by solar energy within a decade.
The consortium behind what would be the biggest ever solar energy initiative will first raise awareness and interest among other investors for the project, known as Desertec, which is estimated to cost around €400 billion…
The companies – including Siemens, Deutsche Bank, and the energy companies RWE and E.on – will meet on July 13 in Munich to draw up an agreement. German government ministries as well as the Club of Rome, a Zurich-based NGO of leading scientists, managers and politicians which advocates sustainable development, are also expected to be present.
It is seen as particularly significant that the companies aim to start the expensive initiative in the midst of a financial crisis. But although none of the companies is keen to go into detail yet about their involvement, they stress that the project is a chance for them to drive forward the fight against climate change and in doing so to position themselves at the top of the green technology industry. Germany, despite its relative lack of sun, has become a leader in solar energy.
The energy potential in the deserts south of the Mediterranean is enormous.
According to the European Commission’s Institute for Energy, if just 0.3% of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle Eastern deserts was captured, it could provide all of Europe’s energy needs…
The €400bn investment would be enough to cover 15% of Europe’s electricity requirements.
This isn’t a magic bullet approach. Like the best ecology strategy, profitability is the best way to build safe and sane investments in green construction.
Some participants – and non-participants – in the project realize the equal merit of decentralized power sources all the way down to home-based solar installations. But, this sort of scale is what these folks are good at. More power to them.