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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 3:53 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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European Companies Plan $550 Billion Solar Project in Sahara Desert

awesome! northern africa must be a goldmine for solar energy. i'm sure the middle east is too. just like this old(ish) Der Spiegel story says:

European Companies Plan $550 Billion Solar Project in Sahara Desert
Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)

A consortium of approximately 20 companies, including RWE AG (Essen, Germany), reinsurance company Munich Re Group (Munich, Germany), Siemens AG (Munich) and Deutsche Bank (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), have announced plans for a pioneering 400 billion euro ($550 billion) project to build solar farms in the Sahara desert that will help power European households. The hugely ambitious plan is the most expensive green-energy project ever proposed and would extend out to 2050, when the group envisions solar plants stretching across 130 square kilometers of the North African desert. According to its backers, the project, known as Desertec, could yield up to 15 percent of all of Europe's power needs by 2050. Desertec was formed by the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation, which itself is made up of Club of Rome, the Hamburg Climate Protection Foundation and the National Energy Research Center of Jordan.

Siemens is expected to provide the project with steam turbines for solar thermal plants, similar to those supplied to the Invapah Solar Complex in Mojave, California, the first commercial solar thermal power plant in the United States to feature a power tower. The power generated in the Desertec Sahara project will be transported through a Euro-Mediterranean high-voltage transmission grid with low transmission losses. About $481 billion of the proposed funding will go toward building the solar plants, while $69 billion will be used for the transmission lines.

"We consider Desertec to be by far the most important concept available at present for getting to grips with the pressing problem of climate change in the energy-supply sector," said Max Schön for the Club of Rome. "The earth's deserts receive as much energy in six hours as mankind consumes in a whole year. What makes Desertec so attractive is that the concept makes a vital contribution, firstly to protecting our climate, and secondly to ensuring the security of energy and water supplies for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East."

The group believes that the technology they will use is already available, although they expect ongoing improvements to allow them to scale things up considerably. Professor Hans Muller-Steinhagen from the German Aerospace Center said, "The technologies needed to produce electricity from concentrated solar radiation basically exist. Solar thermal power plants with a total capacity of 500 MW are already in operation, and additional plants with a capacity of 1 GW are under construction, and more than 10 1-GW power plants are at an advanced planning stage."

Muller-Steinhagen says the project will aim to reduce electricity-acquisition costs by pursuing two parallel approaches as laid out in the EcoStar study. Mass production and experience will lower the costs substantially while the group intends to work to make parabolic trough power plants and solar tower power plants more efficient.

"The next step," he added, "will be to develop solar-powered gas-turbine plants that operate without cooling water. The German Aerospace Center assumes that, in 10 to 15 years from now, the electricity generated by solar power plants will be able to compete with the medium-load electricity from fossil power plants."

The project is undoubtedly ambitious, and there are a huge number of obstacles to overcome. Alongside the huge upfront costs, there will be political wrangling, cross-border issues during transmission and the political instability in North Africa to deal with. The group accepts that the set-up costs are high.

Hans Muller-Steinhagen said, "All concerned must be aware that a new technology is always very much more expensive in the initial phase than power plant concepts which have been established for decades. The investment costs for solar thermal power plants are generally very high. The 50-MW power plants with heat storage for eight hours of full-load operation, which are currently being built in Spain, cost around 300-350 million euros at present. The financing for such projects is consequently the first hurdle to clear." Munich Re will host a meeting of interested parties and country representatives in Munich on July 13 to discuss the project.

Industrial Info Resources provides global market intelligence specializing in the industrial process, heavy manufacturing and energy related markets. For more than 26 years, Industrial Info has provided plant and project opportunity databases, market forecasts, high resolution maps, and daily industry news.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 3:56 PM
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Cool stuff - solar power might end up as important for Northern Africa and the Middle East as oil is today
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 4:20 PM
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$550 billion seems like a lot for 15% of Europe's needs for 2050 (but maybe it just sounds that way - I don't really have the knowledge to make a good comparison). Anyone have any idea what the operational costs of something like this would be? Seems like they would be relatively low, but again, I don't really know.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 4:36 PM
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Rico Rommheim Rico Rommheim is offline
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Great news! What else better is there to do with a large shinny desert?

still waiting for europe bad, USA good posts....
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 5:30 PM
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Europe bad, USA good.

Okay now lets move on...
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 6:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Rico Rommheim View Post
Great news! What else better is there to do with a large shinny desert?

still waiting for europe bad, USA good posts....
Funny, I was waiting for the opposite to happen!

Seriously though, this is a hell of an ambitious project! I'll wait until I hear a few more details before really commenting on it, though I wonder what those African nations that will have the power generation installed on their land will get out of it?

Let's face it, Europe hasn't exactly been a bastion of goodness for Africa over the decades and centuries... (Not that the U.S. has, either, but Europe has been far more involved in colonialism there)

Aaron (Glowrock)
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Old Posted Jun 20, 2009, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Rico Rommheim View Post
Great news! What else better is there to do with a large shinny desert?
That comment kinda made me wonder if this is truly a green idea. What they are doing is converting one of the most reflective surface on the earth (besides snow and ice) Into giant space heaters. I haven't looked too much into the efficiency of these plants but if they would have to push 60% to beat the cooling effects of the bare desert. Hopefully they are not extensive enough for it to make much of a difference.
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Old Posted Jun 20, 2009, 7:14 PM
Jasonhouse Jasonhouse is offline
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Moved to correct forum...

Folks who are interested should participate more in the green buildings/projects forum... If we all chipped in, it could be really interesting and we all might learn a little something!
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Old Posted Jun 22, 2009, 3:02 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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German blue chip firms throw weight behind north African solar project
Siemens, Deutsche Bank, RWE and E.on ready to invest in ambitious plan to power Europe with clean electricity from Africa

Kate Connolly in Berlin guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 June 2009 18.16 BST

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 €400bn (£338bn).

Torsten Jeworrek, board member of Munich Re, the German reinsurer which is leading the project, said: "We want to found an initiative which over the next two to three years will put concrete measures on the table."

Like other reinsurers, Munich Re has said it is expecting to face mounting claims in the coming years for damage caused by climate change.

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 Desertec project aims to build solar power plants in several locations in north Africa. Jeworrek said the "most important criteria" was that the locations were "situated in politically stable lands". Morocco, as well as Libya and Algeria have been cited as potential sites, where land is also cheap.

The technique called "concentrating solar power" or CSP, uses banks of mirrors to focus the sun's rays in a central column filled with water. The rays heat the water, vaporising the it into a steam which is then used to drive turbines which generate carbon-free electricity.

The energy would then be fed via high-voltage direct current (DC) transmission lines over thousands of miles to Europe - traditional AC lines are far too inefficient.

Hans Muller-Steinhagen of Germany's Aerospace Centre, said it was technically possible, albeit expensive, to transport the energy over thousands of miles. He said solar energy from the desert is already being harvested but only in isolated plants. CSP plants are operational in the American west, including in California and Nevada, while independent plants are currently being set up in Spain, Morocco, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates. But the projects have suffered from investors' nervousness due of the vast expense of the required grid infrastructure, as well as the cheapness of fossil fuels.

German representatives of environmental groups yesterday widely welcomed the news that big businesses were prepared to give the project a backbone for the first time.

"Businesses have finally recognised that renewable energies belong to the future, and in times of economic crisis this also sends out an important signal for economic growth," said Andree Bohling of Greenpeace.

WWF Germany's climate expert Regine Gunther said while the initiative was a "step in the right direction", it was important to ensure that Africa benefited from the project. "They want to and indeed must profit from this solution as much as us," she said. Previous suggestions have included allowing host countries to retain a proportion of the electricity for free, in return for providing sites for the solar farms.

The €400bn investment would be enough to cover 15% of Europe's electricity requirements, according to Jeworrek. He added "in technical terms this project can be realised" but stressed in order for it to be sustainable it would have to finance itself in the long-run and be competitive within 10 to 15 years.

But German MP Hermann Scheer, president of Eurosolar, the European Association for Renewable Energy, called the Desertec project "highly problematic".

He said costs would be vastly higher and deadlines would be missed due to logistical problems such as sand storms and dealing with many different countries. "I would urge the investors to stay clear of it," he told The Guardian.

Scheer was also critical of the fact that the project would "duplicate the current system" whereby energy distribution is concentrated in the hands of a few multinational companies. "We should be looking instead at decentralising the system, and looking closer to home for our energy supplies, such as solar panels on homes or harnessing wind energy on the coasts, or inland," he said.

Inhabitat has pics also
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Old Posted Jul 14, 2009, 2:32 AM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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interview with Siemen CEO Peter Loescher in Der Spiegel:

'On the Brink of a New Era in Energy'

The biggest solar energy project in the world is about to get off the drawing board. And leading German firm, Siemens, is just one of around a dozen organizations getting behind Desertec. SPIEGEL asked Siemens CEO Peter Löscher about his company's role in the project.

Top companies lined up on Monday to get behind the world's most ambitious solar energy project. They signed a memorandum of understanding in Munich to set up the Desertec Industrial Initiative which involves what is being called a "solar technology belt" across the Middle East and North Africa, with a huge undersea "super grid" then delivering the power back to Europe.

The aim of the €400 billion ($560 billion) project is to provide carbon-free energy that could supply up to 20 percent of European energy needs by 2050.

At first the Desertec project, which arose out of a feasibility study commissioned by the German Ministry of the Environment, looked as though it might not get much further than the drawing board because of its hefty price tag. But a consortium of some of Europe's heaviest financial hitters has come together to raise the required funds. Among others both governmental and non-governmental, this includes Deutsche Bank, energy giants RWE and E.ON, major insurer Munich Re and electro-engineering leader Siemens.

The meeting formally established the Desertec group, which should be followed by firm plans for the project within two to three years time and then actual energy production for Europe within a decade. SPIEGEL spoke to Siemens Chief Executive Peter Löscher about his firm's involvement with what would be the biggest green energy project in the world.

SPIEGEL: This Monday, the representatives of around a dozen businesses will meet in Munich to facilitate what is possibly the most ambitious industrial project they have ever undertaken. What sort of role will Siemens be playing?

Löscher: We will be covering the whole chain of energy conversion, from efficient and environmentally friendly power generation via transport and distribution right up to end uses of electric power. Desertec is not just about solar and wind energy, it is also about energy superhighways for the low-loss transmission of power over thousands of kilometers and the management of such complex systems.

SPIEGEL: Some experts have said they think it's not economical to transport solar power to Europe through huge distribution grids under the Mediterranean Sea.

Löscher: Energy superhighways can be both technologically efficient and economical. A few years ago we connected Tasmania with the Australian continent. And from 2011 there will be a 250-kilometer undersea cable supplying Majorca with electricity from the Spanish mainland. For us, this kind of thing is now part of our core business.

SPIEGEL: Critics have complained that the governments of the many African nations where the project is being developed have not been consulted.

Löscher: Such oases of energy are a huge opportunity for Africa -- and for every other region with enough sunshine hours. When capital, competence and resources from several different countries come together, it is advantageous for all those taking part. Besides, representatives from Arab states and from Africa are substantially involved.

SPIEGEL: Your own company made solar cells until 2002, after which you sold that part of the business. A big mistake?

Löscher: At that time Siemens was pulling out of the cyclic semi-conductor business -- that is, mainly silicon chips and microchips for computers as well as solar cells. We stayed in the field of photovoltaics (the field of converting solar energy into electricity). In the future we will be bigger players in the area of solar power again.

SPIEGEL: Yet in the field of alternative energy, 90 percent of what Siemens produces is actually wind power…

Löscher: This business has developed incredibly over the last few years. We now want to become a leader in solar power too.

SPIEGEL: Your arch-rival in the US, General Electric, has also discovered solar energy as an area of future growth. Will you be competing or co-operating?

Löscher: Competition and strong players in the market are always good for progress and innovation. Siemens connected America and Europe via telephone cables under the Atlantic as early as 1874, before other companies existed. That mammoth project was considered as ambitious as Desertec is today.

SPIEGEL: In addition to solar power, you want to push nuclear power as well -- even though the recent problems at the Krümmel nuclear plant have fuelled doubts about the safety of this technology.

Löscher: The fact is that the world needs a broad mix of energy sources. We are standing on the brink of a new era in energy production. Electricity that is clean and produced in an environmentally friendly is a major way of tackling climate change. And that involves the whole spectrum of energy sources and innovative technologies.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2009, 10:51 AM
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European Companies Plan $550 Billion Solar Project in Sahara Desert

Its very good new for all sahara people and also other investors.Now a day all European Companies Plan different project in very decent places. So, why other company don't. The Caribbean architects projects feature. Promote and showcase Architecture (built and unbuilt), from Caribbean nationals to the global community, and vice versa. For more information about, Caribbean Art and Tropical Architecture. Other caribbean architects promote and showcase Architecture, art and graphic design (built and unbuilt), from Caribbean nationals to the global community, and vice versa. For more information about, Caribbean Architecture and Caribbean Architects.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 2:53 AM
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The Big Question: Should Africa be generating much of Europe's power?
By Daniel Howden
Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Why are we asking this now?

Two hugely ambitious power-generating schemes have been launched in recent weeks, one offering to create the world's largest solar farm and the other to create the biggest hydroelectric dam on the planet. In both cases the location for the mega-projects is Africa: the solar-power scheme envisages harnessing the sun in the Moroccan and/or Algerian Sahara; while the hydroelectric plan centres on damming the mighty Congo River. What the two projects have in common is that they seek to export the majority of the power they intend to generate from impoverished countries to more developed economies. In the case of the Sahara to Southern Europe and in the case of Congo to South Africa, foreign mining interests inside the Democratic Republic of Congo and again, Europe. Even in the best-case scenario neither project will be up and running for 15 years.

How would it work?

Planners behind the Desertec scheme point out that the solar energy that falls on the Sahara in six hours would power Europe for one year. Although the difficulty in harnessing, storing and transferring that electricity means that the eventual aim is to supply 15 per cent of Europe's power needs. The Inga Dam project in DRC aims to generate 40,000MW, meaning twice the capacity of the giant Three Gorges dam in China, which would be more than the output of South Africa's entire troubled national power industry. In terms of how it works, however sophisticated power stations become, they all do broadly the same thing as a bicycle dynamo – they either boil water or harness moving water to turn turbines that generate resistance and charge. In the Sahara it would be done by a new concentrated solar power (CSP) technology which is in effect a vast field of mirrors which collect heat, boil water and turn turbines. The electricity generated would be channelled through direct current cables under the Mediterranean and into Europe. In the case of the Congo it would involve absorbing the extraordinary power of the Inga Falls to power the turbines. The same cables would then transfer that electricity as far afield as South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and southern Europe.

What would the cost be?

The Desertec plan has been costed at €400bn, while the Grand Inga Dam would weigh in at $80bn, always assuming that the projects are delivered on budget. The main backers of the Sahara scheme are a dozen finance and industrial firms, mainly from Germany, including household names such as Siemens. One of the biggest cost factors will be the direct current cables which will cost as much as $1bn each, even to cross from the Sahara to Southern Europe and at least 20 of them are needed. There are a host of risk factors involved in both that stretch from political and regional instability in the Maghreb to prolonged conflict in the DRC. Add to these Saharan sandstorms and the costs of providing the water necessary to clean solar panels and cool turbines in a desert.

Why are developed economies shopping for power in the third world?

The simplest answer is that there are no equivalents of the Saharan solar power or the roaring waters of the Inga Falls in southern England, or anywhere else in crowded Europe. But another aspect is the difficulty that governments and private investors have had in establishing large renewable energy projects in Europe. Some, such as Portugal, have forged ahead with widespread windfarms but others, such as the UK, have met with organised, local resistance to big projects that would transform the environment. By contrast, the Sahara offers proximity to Europe, a tiny population and intense sunlight.

How will Europe benefit?

In Europe the energy question is a strategic one. Most governments are looking for ways to reduce their reliance on Russian gas which some would argue has given too much power to Moscow. Many administrations are pursuing the nuclear option but often without being honest about the timescale involved in launching next-generation civilian reactors – at least 20 years from now in most cases. All of this is happening while the long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1995 levels before 2050. In any case, many EU countries are behind on their commitments to switch at least 15 per cent of their energy needs to renewable resources by 2015.

How will Africa benefit?

According to the World Bank, The Grand Inga project has the potential to bring electricity to 500 million homes in Africa. It would solve at a stroke the electricity crisis in South Africa which has seen the continent's biggest economy plunged into darkness for days at a time. However, there are two previous Inga dams, which were costly and corrupt failures. If it worked, it could also deal with the energy needs of DRC's mining sector in Katanga, power Namibia and fill the shortfall in Nigeria's generating capacity. A quick look at satellite images of the Earth at night are sufficient to show that Africa remains in an electrical dark age. Fewer than 30 per cent of African households have access to electricity and that number plunges to one in 10 in many countries.

So why the controversy?

A new report by Usaid this week estimated that there are now one billion people living in Africa. Despite urbanisation, the majority of them live outside cities, or without access to basic services. Exporting African electricity to Europe's businesses and consumers strikes some as grotesquely wrong. Many development agencies favour a patchwork of smaller projects using existing solar technology – photovoltaic – which is cheaper and more suited to a dispersed population. In contrast, an open energy market would see Africans competing with far richer Europeans for electricity generated from their natural resources. Considering the scant benefits that have accrued to ordinary people from other natural boons such as oil and minerals, these projects can be seen as a power grab. Then there is climate change, to which Africa contributes least and suffers the worst consequences. In Kenya climate change is contributing to a drought that has crippled the hydropower the country relies on. A similar crisis in Uganda means the country is running on generators. Rich industrial nations are already committed to setting up global-warming adaptation funds and technology transfer through the UN climate talks. Critics of the mega-projects believe the billions would be better spent there than in indirect subsidies to Western multinationals under the guise of helping Africa.

Should Europe be allowed to continue its power-generating schemes in Africa?

*Europe needs renewable energy and Africa needs massive investment, it's a win-win situation
*The Sahara is empty and barraged with more solar power every morning than Europe needs in a year
*A new grand dam on the Congo River would power up to 500 million African homes

*These mega-schemes are huge indirect subsidies from rich nations to multinationals seeking mega-profits
*The centralised grand designs don't meet Africa's dispersed power needs and are a huge distraction
*Africa is full of Western-funded white elephants, two of them already on the Congo River
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Old Posted Dec 4, 2009, 3:42 AM
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new story in Der Spiegel in 7 parts
Part 1: Can Saharan Solar Power Save Europe?
Part 2: The State of Solar Power Today
Part 3: What about Sand Storms, Desert Dunes and Lack of Water?
Part 4: Can We Make Solar Power Cheaper?
Part 5: How Can Solar Power Be Transported to Europe?
Part 6: State of the Solar Power Nations
Part 7: Not Everyone Dreams the Desertec Dream
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2011, 5:28 PM
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Desertec’s First Solar Power Plant to Begin Construction in Morocco Next Year
by Lori Zimmer, 11/02/11

The Desertec Initiative announced two years ago its intentions to harness the power of the sun in the Sahara Desert. Now, the project is moving forward, with plans for the first construction to break ground in 2012. The 500-megawatt concentrated solar power plant (CSP) will cost a cool $2.8 billion and harness the power of the sun from the desert of Morocco. Desertec is a projected half-trillion dollar solar project that will occupy parts of the Sahara, the Middle East, and Europe. The potential for the project is great — if completed, it could provide power for 15-20 percent of Europe’s electricity from solar energy by 2050, as well as power to the Middle East and Northern Africa.
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