Saturday

13th Aug 2022

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.

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us