Desertec member seeks global pilots for huge solar, wind scheme

FRANKFURT/MUNICH Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:23am IST

Stocks

   

FRANKFURT/MUNICH Nov 20 (Reuters) - Desertec, which aims to bring power to Europe from huge solar and wind projects in Africa and the Middle East, should set up pilot schemes globally to prove the plan's feasibility faster, one of its shareholders said.

"Ideally, we would like to see 5-10 Desertec pilot projects worldwide," Thiemo Gropp, director of the Desertec Foundation, one of the shareholders of the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), told Reuters on Tuesday.

While the entire Desertec scheme itself has been estimated at 400 billion euros ($512 billion) by 2050, Gropp said costs for these smaller pilot projects would be 10 billion-20 billion euros ($12.8-25.6 billion).

"You could move a lot if this would be realised, as concrete examples are the best means to convince," he added.

Desertec, founded three years ago, envisages Europe importing up to a fifth of its electricity from solar and wind parks in North Africa and the Middle East by 2050.

The project, based in Munich, aims to use mirrors to harness the sun's rays to produce steam and drive turbines to generate electricity in the Sahara region. It wants its plants to cover an area of 6,500 square miles and produce 1,064 terrawatt hours (TWh), almost enough energy to power Germany for two years.

However, since its establishment in 2009, Desertec has not started work on any concrete ventures due to complicated negotiations between many partners with conflicting interests.

The Desertec project has recently come under pressure after two of its shareholders, German engineering conglomerate Siemens and automotive supplier Bosch, said they would leave the consortium.

This, Gropp said, would not bring the project to a halt.

"In the end, the transformation depends on public pressure, not on a couple of industrial companies," Gropp said.

Other shareholders of the DII include German reinsurer Munich RE, utilities E.ON and RWE , as well as Deutsche Bank.

Derided by critics as being too costly and beset by political uncertainties, Desertec has struggled to attract investors and the Arab Spring cast further doubt over partners in northern Africa and the Middle East.

Earlier this month, DII said Spain was holding up its first concrete deal to feed solar power from northern Africa to Europe.

Gropp said further political support was crucial for the success of the project.

"We think things will move too slowly without any political support. More can be done," he said, adding that financial aid as well as government loans or feed-in tariffs could be used to achieve this. ($1 = 0.7811 euros) (Editing by Anthony Barker)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Reliance Q4 sales rise, refining margin narrows.  Read 

Innovative Solution

Innovative Solution

Turning smog into jewels - a Dutch designer's solution to Beijing's pollution.  Video 

Insider Trading

Insider Trading

Rajaratnam's brother loses bid to dismiss insider trading charges.  Full Article 

Literary Giant Dies

Literary Giant Dies

Mourning and memories in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's languid hometown.  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

S&P: India's ratings to depend on next govt econ, fiscal policies.  Full Article 

Ambitious Aim

Ambitious Aim

In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch.  Full Article 

Bond Market

Bond Market

A star abroad, RBI boss riles bond traders at home  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage