Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

Sahara wind and sun to power EU homes

This year, somewhere in Morocco, work will begin on the construction of what is to become a vast network of solar and wind energy farms all around the Sahara desert to provide 15 percent of Europe's electricity supply by 2050.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative, launched in 2009, is a private consortium of 55 mostly German companies, including Deutsche Bank, Eon, Munich Re and Siemens.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The future look of the Sahara? (Photo: TREC-UK)

The undertaking kicks off with a €2 billion solar farm energy from which could be sent through cables sunk across the floor of the Mediterranean Sea and lighting up European living rooms as early as 2014.

The precise date and location are still to be determined pending negotiations. But if all goes well, it will clear the way for the building of other energy farms in Algeria and Tunisia.

"It's all systems go in Morocco," said Paul van Son, chief executive of the Desertec project, in November last year.

Reuters reports him saying in a telephone interview that the Arab spring has only been a good thing.

"We like the Arab Spring because it has opened up a lot of ideas and generated support for the project," he reportedly said. "We're very supportive. The democratic structures fit very well with ours."

The project has secured the support of several European governments, including that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"It is still a dream right now, but it can be a project to connect our two continents, Africa and Europe," Merkel said in December 2010 after meeting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger has voiced ambivalent feelings on the project, however.

Speaking at the Desertec 2010 annual conference in Barcelona, he "welcomed" the project and "the enthusiasm of the partner companies".

Yet speaking at the German Bundestag's economic affairs committee a few months earlier, Oettinger criticised the project as being "colonial", according to the parliament's press service. Africans have not been properly consulted, he is reported as having said.

Other critics include the late Hermann Scheer, long-time member of the German Bundestag and renewable energy advocate.

"The Desertec project is a fata morgana," he wrote in a press release after the launch of the project in 2009. "The initiators know: There is no prospect of success."

Transporting electricity from Africa to Europe is just too expensive, he argued. It would be cheaper to generate the electricity within the EU.

He added that if it would really help Sahara countries to make the transition to renewable energy he "would fully agree to the Desertec plan," however.

For his part, Van Son is eager to stress that most of the generated power will be for local use. He says that the local population will only benefit from the project, economically as well as politically.

"Questions of energy have the power to effect political unity. This is what happened precisely 60 years ago with the European Coal and Steel Community. Now renewable energies are providing the Arab world with the same opportunity."

Germany to cut solar energy subsidies

Germany's solar power industry could cool as Berlin plans to cut subsidies in a sector whose energy capacity output has successfully more than doubled the government’s projected target.

Energy democracy: New Danish wind firm rattles industry

A young entrepreneur from Denmark is well underway to establish himself as a thorn in the side of traditional energy companies. Since 1 January, he sells wind energy at a lower price than average and is overrun by clients.

MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

The gas-boiler industry is pushing for hydrogen to be allowed to heat homes — but as well as being riskier for explosions and exacerbating asthma, experts dub domestic hydrogen 'a dangerous distraction'.

Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by another 0.5 percent to a 14-year high, and expects to hike rates by another half percent in March. But what does that mean for the green transition?

Opinion

The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

The EU must realise the need for a trade agreement with Mercosur. The timing has never been better. The recent election of the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, marks a fresh start to move forward on the Mercosur Agreement.

Latest News

  1. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  2. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  3. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  4. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  5. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  6. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  7. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit
  8. Eleven suicides daily — Spain's not-so-silent pandemic

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us