If you haven’t heard of Desertec yet, it’s about time you did. Desertec is a half-a-trillion-dollar renewable energy project (yes, I said trillion) planned for Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. We’ve written about it several times over the years. If built, it is projected to produce 15-20% of Europe’s electricity by 2050, as well as providing the Middle East and North African (MENA) region with a good deal of its electricity.
While many have been skeptical of this giant renewable energy project, it’s got the backing of over a dozen major companies and institutions (including: Munich Re, Enel, Abengoa Solar, Deutsche Bank, RWE, Saint-Gobain, E.ON, HSH Nordbank, ABB, Siemens, Flagsol, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, PWC, Flabeg, Jungmut Communication, Skies & Meadows, Nissen Consulting, EBL, Heidelberg Innovation, Nur Energie, M & W Group, MGM Consulting Partners, Red Electrica, and the Desertec Foundation) and it has been moving forward steadily. Now, it’s been announced that construction of its first power plant — a 500-megawatt, €2-billion ($2.8-billion) concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Morocco — is going to start in 2012.
The first phase of the 500-megawatt project is a 150-megawatt, 12-square-kilometer solar facility that will cost about €600 million ($822 million) and will take 2-4 years to complete.
Those behind the Desertec Industrial Initiative (its full name) point out that deserts receive enough solar energy in 6 hours to power the world for a year. Seriously. Nothing compares to the potential of solar energy, as I’ve pointed out a few times before. And, of course, much of that potential is in sunny deserts.
Image via DESERTEC