Would an Alternative Approach Help the DESERTEC Concept Taking Off?
14 September 2014 Leave a comment
The DESERTEC renewable energy project was launched in 2009 and is expected to feed green electricity to Europe in 2020. The total investment costs for the project have been estimated at about EUR 400 billion (USD 525.4bn). The DESERTEC project aims to link North African solar power plants (currently being built or planned) with the European renewable energy network. So far so good, but there are some drawbacks to be considered.
For a better understanding of the DESERTEC Vision, kindly watch the attached video.
The current DESERTEC concept fails for a number of reasons
Renewable energy in general and solar energy in particular are hotspots right now. However, there are three main obstacles holding the DESERTEC project back.
- Supply Issues – Even though solar power is the better alternative for the future of the environment, there are other factors to take into consideration. Countries importing solar power, have to consider the security of depending on another country for their power supply. If something goes wrong in the supplying country, they could be left in the dark. For many reasons this is a very dangerous position to be in
- Financial Issues – For the DESERTEC project to be successful, huge investments are required. There have also been a number of financial supporters who have withdrawn from the project. This obviously means slower progress. High cost associated with transferring the electricity generated over large distances has also been a factor which has contributed to the fact that it is not viable to export the electricity generated to European countries
- Geo-political Risks – The MENA (Middle East North Africa) region is a turbulent region where security risks are high because of political instability in general and terrorism in particular
Alternative approach to the original concept
As a business developer I’m always looking at alternative ways to achieve a certain goal. Instead of the MENA region supplying entire Europe I would like to suggest the following approach:
- Europe – Making use of the European sun belt (countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Balkan) to supply their own territory and sell to the countries north of the Pyrenees and the Alps. The European sun belt target should be to take care of 80% of European solar energy needs
- MENA region – Supplying their own territory plus countries south of the Sahara desert. The MENA target should be to take care of 20% of European solar energy needs
This alternative approach would most possibly take out the drawbacks mentioned above, since the dependency would be between the EU countries for 80% of the solar energy need.
Here’s my takeaway
The DESERTEC concept has been very ambitious in its original form. However, this original form is hardly feasible because of the issues mentioned above. An alternative approach for Europe would be to get supplied for let’s say 80% from the European sun belt and 20% from the MENA region. This would solve the geo-political risks significantly, and would solve the supply and financial issues partially.
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