Clean power from deserts

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THE Desertec CONCEPT IN BRIEF

The Desertec concept is an important 'vision' of future energy supplies and other benefits in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA). The main elements of the concept are these:

  • Deep cuts in CO2 emissions from electricity generation throughout EUMENA using a wide variety of renewable sources of energy, with a phase-out of nuclear power.
  • An important part of the energy mix is clean electricity from areas of desert, taking advantage of the truly enormous quantities of solar energy in those regions and the simple, proven technology of 'concentrating solar power' (CSP).
  • Transmission of renewable electricity throughout EUMENA via a 'supergrid' of highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. A 'cascading principle' means that countries throughout EUMENA may start to benefit from "clean power from deserts" via existing HVAC transmission lines. These may be upgraded as the quantities of electricity increase.
  • For a variety of reasons, there would be enhanced security of energy supplies.
  • Additional benefits including:
    • Desalination of sea water using waste heat from CSP plants—a valuable bonus in arid regions.
    • The partially-shaded areas under the solar mirrors have many potential uses including horticulture (using desalinated sea water): a source of food and other useful products.
    • Jobs and earnings throughout EUMENA.
    • Global security:
      • Reduced risks of conflict over shortages of energy, water, food and usable land.
      • Collaboration amongst countries of EUMENA, with substantial benefits for all, can help to reduce tensions, improve relations and build understandings amongst different groups of people—a positive alternative to the confrontational policies of recent years.
  • The Desertec ideas can be applied in many other parts of the world. Countries like China and India can leapfrog the 'dirty' phase of development, making cuts in CO2 emissions whilst maintaining or increasing their energy supplies. Countries like Saudi Arabia can move directly from being oil-rich to being solar-rich. The USA can meet all its energy needs from its south western states. These things can help break deadlocks in international negotiations about cutting CO2 emissions.

The Desertec concept is described in detail in the 'MED-CSP' and 'TRANS-CSP' reports from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). They may be downloaded via links from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm. Further information may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.desertec.org.


Last updated: 2009-08-20 (ISO 8601)