Desertec can provide whole Europe with Solar Energy

Posted by Jeroen van Agt in Solar energy 3 Comments»

cspOur sun, a nuclear fusion source which is already working reliably for more than 5 billion years, produces an extreme amount of energy. Within 6 hours, deserts on Earth receive more solar energy than we use in a whole year globally. Therefore it is strange that we are not already using this free energy source to it’s full potential. It looks like this is going to change now. A group of twenty big German corporations has plans to deliver solar power from Africa to German households in Europe within 10 years. The plan consists of investing 400 billion euros to build gigantic large Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants in North-Africa. With this investment, 15% of the total European electricity can be generated by solar power day and night. It is one of the biggest private green initiatives.

Twenty of the biggest German companies, of which Siemens, Deutsche Bank, RWE, will start up a new consortium with the name Desertec in July 2009. The plan is to harvest solar energy in the African desert using Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). The group wants to present concrete plans within two to three years. The founding meeting will take place at 13 July 2009 in M√ľnchen (Germany) in the presence of ministerial representatives and the Club of Rome. The group plans for participation of other European countries and North-Africa on the medium term. The group already received positive reactions from these future partners. A Feed-in Tariff will provide the financial income on the short term, it is expected that Desertec will be competing in the energy market within 10-15 years.

First Step

With the start up of the Desertec consortium, the first step is made for starting large scale solar energy production using CSP-plants for Europe. To cover 15% of Europe’s electricity needs, a surface area of only 50 square miles is needed. The extended electricity grid needs to transport the generated power from North-Africa to Europe via HVDC (high Voltage DC, Direct Current) lines below the Mediterranean sea. With HVDC lines, the electrical transportation loss is a lot less compared the normal HVAC (high Voltage AC, Alternating Current) lines when transporting electricity over thousands of miles. Of the total investment of 400 billion euros, 10-20 billion is needed for the new electricity grid.

More Energy than We Need

The potential is even greater. Deserts on Earth annually receive more than 1000 times more solar energy than we actually use. The whole world has an annually energy usage of 18,000 TWh. The area needed to generate this amount of energy with CSP-plants is only 188×188 square miles. Below is a table which show how much area you need to provide large geographical locations with energy using CSP.

Geographical location Annually energy usage Area needed for CSP plant
World 18.000 TWh 188×188 square miles
Europe 3.200 TWh 78×78 square miles
MENA (Middle East and North Africa) 600 TWh 34×34 square miles

Research shows that we need to cover less than 0.3 percent of the Sahara desert with solar mirrors to generate enough power for the energy needs of the 25 countries of the European Union, North-Africa and the Middle-East.

The Desertec plan

The red squares are only to illustrate how much area is needed for CSP-plants to generate enough energy for respectively the world, Europe or MENA. Obviously these CSP-plants will not be built in a single location. The planned locations can be found in the map above.

The red square with the name “TRANS-CSP Mix EUMENA 2050” shows how much area is needed to generate enough freshwater for the region, provide for 2/3 of the electricity needs of MENA in the year 2050 and 1/5 part of the European electricity needs (2.940 TWh / year). CSP-plants can provide an substantial contribution for the production of freshwater in a region with serious freshwater scarecity.

Projected Water Scarcity in 2025

Solar Plants can provide enough Energy to Power the World

Background information

3 replies on “Desertec can provide whole Europe with Solar Energy”

As a starting solar energy investor in my country Libya, I’m astonishing about this high giant project. specialy it envolve’s my region. Best wishes. Please send me any new information about solar energy.
Thank you

we are starting solar energy investing my country India,we are alredy run by sumal secal project’s in Biogas. under name of NOVA Charitiable trust,Please send me any new information about solar energy. Thankyou

The most important is how to use solar energy better.People need cheaper and clean energy.Who stop it to develop fast. We know it can do more thing than we looked.I am working a solar energy factory in China. If you use it ,must through factory-trader-nativetrader-distributor and you.In factory we made it must spend 2.3?/w.But i don’t know how much somebody buy it in us and euro.In fact the most expencive of systerm is cells,in China maybe just 10 company control the markets.

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