European Solar Initiative to Source Power from North Africa Hits Blocks

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) oversees a $508 billion initiative to establish 6,500 square miles of concentrated solar power plants in the vast African and Middle Eastern deserts. Those plants are expected to furnish a fifth of Europe’s power needs by 2050, but in recent weeks the Dii has seen the exit of two of its 57 partners from 16 countries and a project held up by the Spanish government.
Siemens Energy, one of the 13 founding shareholders of the Desertec consortium, in October confirmed it would pull out of the initiative when its membership expires at the end of the year. The German engineering conglomerate recently pulled the plug on its solar energy business after sinking solar panel prices and cutbacks in government subsidies generated a string of losses in the business. Siemens was expected to prepare necessary frameworks for renewable energy projects in the Middle Eastern and North African deserts.
German auto parts supplier Bosch earlier this month said economic conditions would not allow a continuation of its membership, indicating that it would let it lapse at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the first project to feed solar power from northern Africa to Europe from a 500-MW solar power plant in Morocco was being held up by partner Spain, which has refused to sign a declaration of intent to connect high-voltage lines. The work involves connecting the project to the Spanish grid via underwater cables from northern Africa, Reuters said.
Sources: POWERnews, Reuters, Spiegel Online

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)

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