16 June 2009

Africa's sun to power Europe's homes?

BERLIN, June 16 (UPI) -- A group of 20 German companies wants to invest $555 billion in concentrated solar power plants in northern Africa to sell green power to Europe and make the continent less dependent on oil and gas imports.

It would be one of the world's biggest private renewable energy projects: Some 20 German companies are planning to join forces to build CSP plants in northern Africa and transport the electricity to Europe via new, direct current power grids.

The consortium, to be formed by mid-July, includes, among others, economic powerhouse Siemens, finance institution Deutsche Bank and energy giant RWE, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reports. The ambitious green project, dubbed "Desertec," could produce power as early as 2019 and eventually satisfy 15 percent of Europe's electricity demand, Torsten Jeworrek, a Munich Re board member, told the newspaper.

The companies, backed by German government officials and the Club of Rome, plan to invest some $555 billion in the deserts of northern Africa. The money would not only be used for building the CSP plants, but also the gird infrastructure needed to bring the electricity to Europe.

"This is no longer a distant vision but technologically fascinating and also achievable," Jeworrek said in a statement Tuesday. "Desertec is clearly banking on the right incentives in the long term, namely climate protection and a low-carbon energy sector."

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