A €400 billion project to supply energy to European countries generated thru blistering sunlight of Sahara desert is gaining momentum nowadays. There are big risks in countries of northern Africa where the writ of government is weak, so it is very critical to start such a large corporate project employing new technologies in that region of the world.
Desertec would be the world’s most challenging solar power project. It will approximately take up $573 billion to start. Fields of mirrors in Sahara would collect solar energy to be used for boiling water. That would turn turbines to electrify a carbon-free network established between Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Many finance and industrial companies, most of them from Germany, are supporting this plan. They say that this project will bring Europe at the forefront of the fight against climate change. North African and European economies will start growing within greenhouse gas emission limits.
There is also a school of thought saying that the concentrated solar power technology behind Desertec is costly as well as risky as compared to other techniques being used in Europe to generate energy. Europe is getting most of its solar energy by installing smaller-scale photovoltaic cells which is much lesser in cost and don’t require big fields.
Desertec’s founders are actually enticed by the fact that the energy received by the world’s deserts in 6-hrs is more than consumed by the whole world in one year.
The next step would be to draw up a perfect business plan for this project and see how it would be financed. The experts are looking forward the support from shareholders and partner companies from different countries.
Sahara desert could generate 15% of the electricity consumed in Europe. Desertec officials want to complete this project by 2050 advancing it in small stages.
Experts and professionals supporting the established solar energy technologies, like photovoltaic cells, say that decentralized power generation ways will prove more successful. Since the prices of these cells are coming down, so it would become unpractical to invest on heavy infrastructure required for Desertec’s concentrated solar power.
Desertec would require more than 20 efficient, DC cables to supply electricity north under the Mediterranean Sea. Each will cost $1 billion.
The project is awesome but it could become more complicated when discussion would start between the European Union and North Africa over energy, investment and trade issues.