What excellent news

A $400bn (£240bn) plan to provide Europe with solar power from the Sahara moved a step closer to reality today with the formation of a consortium of 12 companies to carry out the work.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) aims to provide 15% of Europe\’s electricity by 2050 or earlier via power lines stretching across the desert and Mediterranean sea.

The German-led consortium was brought together by Munich Re, the world\’s biggest reinsurer, and consists of some of country\’s biggest engineering and power companies, including Siemens, E.ON, ABB and Deutsche Bank.

It now believes the DII can deliver solar power to Europe as early as 2015.

\”We have now passed a real milestone as the company has been founded and there is definitely a profitable business there,\” said Professor Peter Höppe, Munich Re\’s head of climate change.

No, really, it\’s great.

Assuming, of course, that they really do mean \”profitable\” without subsidy.

However, if they mean \”profitable\” only at the high feed in tariff for solar power then that\’s not so great. You know, that German one which is 5 times the price of electricity from fossil fuels? The one that costs over $1,000 for each tonne of CO2 not emiited, that tonne of CO2 doing $80 worth of damage if it is emitted?

Anyone actually know the finances of this project?

12 thoughts on “What excellent news”

  1. well we don’t require it to be profitable without any subsidies, because as any fool knows, subsidies can be appropriate in presence of externalities …. however a $1000 price distortion to correct an $80 subsidy, if that is the case, would look excessive.

    (N.B I think there’s an argument for up front subsidy to fund experimentation and discovery, and get “learning-by-doing” started earlier that it would be otherwise)

  2. aims to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050

    At night as well?

    That would be really clever.

    Tim adds: Yes, at night as well: that’s why they’re going for solar thermal not solar PV.

  3. and of course having your power at the control of a third world third party sounds sensible never mind the fact the distribution goes through countries that want to control us. Including one that strikes every year to get its own way.

    Nothing can go wrong with this project at all.

  4. yes we are far better off having our power in the hands of Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. etc.

    I agree security is important, but Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt are no more risky than the current set-up.

    there appear to be people on this thread doubting whether firms like Siemens, sinking billions into this idea, understand the rudiments of the technology.

  5. Serf..

    Ah! Gotcha.

    I was assuming from Mr W’s enthusiasm that it was going to be some variation on photovoltaic – and thus might drive demand for his rare metals enterprise. 🙂

  6. Dearieme,

    Can’t see a problem there. For some reason us Brits have always liked fighting in the desert. Been quite successful at it too.

    Time to dig out the old desert boots and dust off my copy of Monty’s memoirs.

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