ENDORSEMENTS of the desertec concept
The following people and organisations have shown support for the Desertec proposals, or aspects of them, either in formal public statements or in other public words or actions.
Governments and the EU
Expressions of support for the Desertec concept from politicians are detailed on our page about politicians and the Desertec concept. National governments and EU officials are also beginning to show support:
- Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has endorsed the Desertec concept (see Solar power plants planned for Sahara, Financial Times, 2009-07-12). And the German government has endorsed the Desertec concept in a response to a question by Hans-Josef Fell MP. In his reply, Michael Müller, Secretary of State in the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservancy and Nuclear Safety (BMU) wrote (2008-04-07):
The build-up of renewable energy, especially solar thermal power supply, in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East (MENA), in conjunction with a cooperative grid in the Mediterranean area, is in the interest of all of Europe. The concept of solar energy imports from power stations in the MENA area plays an important role in several scenarios concerning the development of renewable energy.
For the full text, see:
See also extracts from a speech by Michael Müller and another by Sigmar Gabriel, German Federal Minister for the Environment, in our page about politicians and the Desertec concept.
- The European Commission has provided funding for several CSP projects (see 10 MW solar thermal power plant for southern Spain, Concentrating solar power: main projects supported by the Commission and Concentrating solar power: from research to implementation). Concentrating solar power is identified as a key technology in the Solar Initiative within the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan. And, as of November 2008, the EU is proposing a Europe-wide supergrid composed mainly of submarine cables.
- In May 2009, the European Parliament voted through recovery package including more than €2.3bn for the development of a new European supergrid and improved gas infrastructure. And in September 2009, the European Parliament approved a resolution on energy security which includes a welcome for the Desertec initiative (see also Energy security: prevent future disruption and expand gas storage capacity, say MEPs).
- Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, has expressed his support for the Desertec concept at the meeting of the European Council held on 2008-03-13.
- H.E Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former President of the Republic of Tunisia, has said "... we are pleased to commend the German initiative concerning the adoption of a 'Mediterranean Project for Solar Energy.'" (The Seoul Times, 2008-07-14).
- The governments of Spain, Italy, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Israel are showing their support in the best way possible: by promoting and supporting the building of CSP plants near Seville, Granada and Puertellano (Spain), in Sicily (Italy), and at Ain Beni Mathar (Morocco), Hassi-R’mel (Algeria), Kuraymat (Egypt) and Ashalim in the Negev desert (Israel) (see CSP projects on Google Earth).
- On 2010-03-07, HM King Mohammed VI of Morocco said "Morocco looks forward to exploring, with the European Union, all the opportunities to be created by regional projects, such as Desertec, in order to lay the foundations of a well-defined, safe, sustainable Euro-Mediterranean energy policy." (see HM the King sends message to first Morocco-EU summit, press release from Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse, 2010-03-07).
- At a seminar in the UK Parliament on 2010-02-02, the Desertec concept was endorsed by Mrs Amina Benkhadra, Morocco's minister for energy. (See Leading politicians back "clean power from deserts".)
- Speaking about the Desertec Industrial Initiative, Said Mouline, managing director of Morocco's Renewable Energy Development Centre (CDER) said "We want to be among the leading countries in this project" (INTERVIEW-Morocco wants leading role in European solar plan, Forbes.com, 2009-07-16).
- Mrs Jamila Matar, representing the League of Arab States, has endorsed the Desertec concept at a press conference following the inauguration of the Desertec Industrial Initiative in Munich on 2009-07-13.
- Mrs Laila Georgy, representing the Egyptian Government, has also endorsed the Desertec concept at the same press conference.
- The Dutch House of Representatives (the Tweede Kamer or Lower House) has voted (on 2008-03-11), by a majority of 134 members to 16, in favour of a motion (proposed on 2008-03-05) promoting the Desertec concept. The motion calls for the government to start discussions with Mediterranean countries, including those in North Africa, about the prospects for CSP, and that it develops initiatives within the European Union that will facilitate the deployment of CSP plants. If the Senate (Eerste Kamer) also supports the motion, it will become binding on the Dutch government.
The text of the motion is here:
- His Royal Highness, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has endorsed the Desertec concept in a speech at the World Future Energy Summit (2009-01-19).
- The Desertec concept is the basis of the Mediterranean Solar Plan, a project which has now been adopted by the new Union for the Mediterranean. In a speech in Tunisia, 2008-04-30, President Nicholas Sarkozy said :
Je voudrais proposer un plan solaire méditerranéen pour permettre l'accès à tous de l'énergie tout en limitant les émissions de gaz à effet de serre qui font peser sur notre planète la menace d'une catastrophe climatique dont les conséquences seraient dramatiques.
I should like to propose a Mediterranean solar plan to provide everyone with access to energy while reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases which are threatening our planet with potentially catastrophic changes in climate.
- There is growing support for the Desertec concept amongst politicians in the UK:
- At a seminar in the UK Parliament on 2010-02-02, the Desertec concept was endorsed by Lord Philip Hunt, UK minister for energy, Mrs Amina Benkhadra, Morocco's minister for energy, Charles Hendry MP, the UK Conservative Party's shadow minister for energy, and Simon Hughes MP, the UK Liberal Democrat Party's shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change. See Leading politicians back "clean power from deserts".
- Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, has backed the proposed Mediterranean Solar Plan.
In a speech that he made at the inaugural meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean Summit in Paris, 2008-07-13,
... in the Mediterranean region, concentrated solar power offers the prospect of an abundant low carbon energy source. Indeed, just as Britain's North Sea could be the Gulf of the future for offshore wind, so those sunnier countries represented here could become a vital source of future global energy by harnessing the power of the sun. So I am delighted that the EU is committing at this summit to work with its neighbours—including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the League of Arab States—to explore the development of a new 'Mediterranean Solar Plan' for the development and deployment of this vital technology from the Sahara northwards.
- Although it was posted late in the 2007-8 parliamentary session, Early Day Motion 1871 in support of the Desertec concept attracted the signatures of 62 MPs.
- As of September 2009, Early Day Motion 123 in support of the Desertec concept has attracted the signatures of 173 MPs, putting it at rank 39 amongst 2109 EDMs.
- According to a report in The Times newspaper (2008-11-13), the UK government supports plans for a Europe-wide supergrid. They quote a spokeswomen as saying "We have been calling for the EU to do more on energy security. The idea of a supergrid could support the Government's aim of developing offshore wind power and other renewables and implementing more interconnection between European electricity markets."
- The Scottish Government supports the building of a North Sea offshore grid, to help take advantage of Scotland's large potential to export renewable power.
- John Gormley, Ireland's Environment Minister, has said (2009-04-25):
With imagination, vision, determination – and with Europe's help – our energy could be made up of solar energy from Seville; tidal power from Rathlin island and Torr Head; geothermal power from Rekyjvik; hydro electric electricity from Norway; wind power from Denmark; wave power from the Kerry coast and biomass crops from Germany. An energy super grid is one element that could be advanced the Green New Deal – a proposal to create 'green collar' jobs for five million Europeans by mobilising €500bn of private and public investment over the next five years.
- Günther Oettinger, the EU Energy Commissioner, has spoken favourably about the Desertec concept. See DESERTEC: Energy in the EU from Northern Africa-a realistic option? Speech of Commissioner Oettinger at Desertec Industrial Initiative (Energia.gr, 2010-10-29); see also EU sees solar power imported from Sahara in five years (EurActiv, 2010-06-21).
- Andris Piebalgs, the former EU Energy Commissioner, has said that the creation of the proposed pan-European sub-sea supergrid should help the incorporation of large quantities of offshore wind into the European electricity market and that it should be developed quickly (see EU's Piebalgs says grid infrastructure needed quickly for offshore wind energy, 2008-03-31). A pan-European supergrid would, of course, be a major part of the EUMENA-wide supergrid proposed in the Desertec scenario. He has described the Desertec concept and the Mediterranean Solar Plan (which is based on the Desertec concept) as "big ideas, visions and some major opportunities for international cooperation." (see Renewable energy: developing a green energy market, 2009-10-09).
- José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, has endorsed the Desertec concept (see Solar power plants planned for Sahara, Financial Times, 2009-07-12).
- Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, endorsed the Mediterranean Solar Plan in a speech on 2009-02-16.
- The US Department of Energy has been researching and developing CSP for several years at its National Renewable Energy Laboratory and via its TroughNet initiative.
- Al Gore, former US Vice President, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (with the IPCC) and Chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection, shows the Desertec map in his latest slide show (New thinking on the climate crisis) and says (at 14:30 minutes):
This is a proposal that has been talked about a lot in Europe—this was from Nature magazine. These are concentrating solar renewable energy plants linked in a so-called supergrid to supply all of the electrical power to Europe largely from developing countries—high voltage DC currents. This is not pie-in-the-sky—this can be done. We need to do it for our own economy. The latest figures show that the old model is not working.
Later, he mentions concentrating solar power again as one of the new technologies that are needed. The article that he referred to is Europe looks to draw power from Africa in Nature News, 2007-11-27. The map that he showed, from the Nature News article, is a redrawn version of the original Desertec map.
In The climate for change, an article in the New York Times (2008-11-09), Al Gore proposes a five-part plan to repower America including the following two Desertec-inspired parts:
First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.
Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used. New high-voltage, low-loss underground lines can be designed with “smart” features that provide consumers with sophisticated information and easy-to-use tools for conserving electricity, eliminating inefficiency and reducing their energy bills. The cost of this modern grid — $400 billion over 10 years — pales in comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.
- Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, former President of the Club of Rome, has been playing a leading role in the promotion of the Desertec concept. He made a formal presentation of the Desertec concept to the European Parliament in November 2007. Speaking on Radio Netherlands on 2007-12-03, he said:
The technology is there, we have plants up and running in the US and in Spain. So I hope that before they jump on the nuclear bandwagon, people will look at this source of energy that is freely available in endless supplies.
- Greenpeace International has been promoting the merits of CSP for some time (See Concentrating solar power: global outlook 2009, PDF, 5 MB, with ESTELA and SolarPACES, May 2009. See also Concentrating solar thermal power—now, PDF, 1.3 MB, September 2005).
- Greenpeace UK has published Win-win: concentrating solar power (PDF, 107 KB) in Greenpeace Business, July 2007. This is an article by Gerry Wolff, Coordinator of Desertec-UK.
- Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group, has kindly given permission for us to say that The Climate Group endorses the Desertec concept. He says:
We are at a point where climate and energy security demand radical changes to our energy systems. We need bold approaches rather than incremental change. And the Desertec concept has both the scale and ambition that we require.
The Climate Group, with PricewaterhouseCoopers, has produced a document, Solar Potential (PDF, 1.6 MB), describing the potential of CSP.
- Tony Juniper, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 2002 and 2008, has endorsed the Desertec concept in Intense solar power (a short film about CSP and the Desertec concept made by film maker Peter Walsh for Al Gore's cable TV channel and screened over the weekend of the Live Earth concert in London, 7th and 8th July, 2007). In the film he says:
The scale that we can do this on is absolutely enormous if we wanted to do it. And we have a range of opportunities in terms of the sizes of the power stations we want to create, ranging from small ones providing local needs to vast desert solar arrays that can be used to manufacture hydrogen that can be exported around the world to be powering the world's transport fleets. The technology is very versatile and has all sorts of fringe benefits including, potentially, the desalination of sea water and being able to advance agriculture in parts of the world's deserts that presently are unsuitable because they are too dry. There's lots of win-wins here for the economy too: lots of jobs that can be created, lots of new businesses that potentially can be put in to place. And of course lots of opportunities for global cooperation between those countries that are hot, and presently quite poor, and those countries that are generally more cloudy but quite rich, and being able to find ways in which we can trade energy and thereby build economic strength across borders too.
- Friends of the Earth in the UK are now promoting and supporting the Desertec concept.
- The Campaign against Climate Change is now promoting and supporting the Desertec concept.
- In March 2009, the Green Party in the UK passed two motions (EN809 and EN810, PDF, p 29) in favour of aspects of the Desertec concept.
- Jonathon Porritt CBE, Founder Director of Forum for the Future and Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission has kindly given permission for us to say that Forum for the Future endorses the Desertec concept. In his book Capitalism as if the World Matters, Jonathon Porritt says (pp. 189-190):
And PV is not the only disruptive technology that will transform our world. At long last, people are beginning to talk about Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), a technology that has been operating successfully in the Mojave Desert in California for nearly 20 years. ... The potential is enormous: every square kilometre of desert sands receives the solar equivalent of 1.5 million barrels of oil every year. Costs are already 'manageable'—the cost of producing the solar thermal equivalent of 1 barrel of oil is today about $50 (less than the current price of oil), and will fall dramatically as economies of scale kick in in terms of the manufacture of all the different component parts. If CO2 were to hit $100 a tonne, this would become something of a no-brainer. ... New CSP plants are being developed ... Investors are starting to wake up, but there is still no real sense of the massive potential of CSP if it can be linked to new, high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) power lines .... In the light of what we now know about climate change, it remains incomprehensible to me that CSP is being treated as 'an eccentric gleam in the eye', warranting miniscule amounts of government R&D budgets, let alone political leadership.
- Lester R Brown, American environmentalist, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, has commented favourably on Desertec developments, suggesting that the Desertec Industrial Initiative could be part of his "Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization".
- Professor Jeffrey Sachs, US economist, UN advisor, and author of Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, spoke on BBC Radio 5 on 2008-05-01 and advocated rapid development and expansion of concentrating solar power.
- Professor Jack Steinberger, Nobel prize-winning director of the CERN laboratory in Geneva, said in May 2009: "I am certain that the energy of the future is going to be thermal solar. There is nothing comparable. The sooner we focus on it the better."
Companies and business people
All the companies involved in the development and implementation of CSP (over 40 of them) are clearly in broad agreement with the Desertec proposals. More specifically:
- The insurance company Munich Re has announced the establishment of the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), a consortium of companies to develop the Desertec concept (see, for example, Desertec initiative agreed, RenewableEnergyWorld.com, 2009-07-13). The DII was inaugurated at a meeting in Munich on 2009-07-13. Founding members of the consortium are ABB, ABENGOA Solar, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Munich Re, M+W Zander, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, and SIEMENS.
- The energy infrastructure company Imera has announced a EUR4.4 billion pan European electricity grid project using submarine cables.
- Mainstream Renewable Power and Airtricity are both proposing the building of a European offshore supergrid.
- In a press release dated 2007-11-27, Google Inc. announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The initiative, known as "RE<C" ("Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal"), will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power (ie CSP), wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies. RE<C will begin with a significant effort on solar thermal technology (CSP), and will also investigate enhanced geothermal systems and other areas. Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products said: "Solar thermal technology ... provides a very plausible path to providing renewable energy cheaper than coal."
- Speaking about CSP at the Solar Power 2006 conference in California, legendary US venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said: "... we are poised for breakaway growth—for explosive growth—not because we are cleaner [than "clean" coal-fired electricity] but because we are cheaper. We happen to be cleaner incidentally."
See also International agencies and their Desertec-related policies and actions.
- The International Energy Agency is promoting CSP via the SolarPACES organization, bringing together teams of national experts from around the world to focus on the development and marketing of concentrating solar power systems.
- The World Bank, in its report Assessment of the World Bank Group/GEF strategy for the market development of concentrating solar thermal power (PDF, 6.6 MB, 2006), says (pp xiii-xiv):
Solar thermal electricity offers a number of advantages when considered as part of a country or region’s energy generation options mix. Solar energy is the world’s most abundant sustainable resource. It represents an even larger resource because of the favorable geography of many of the world’s developing countries. Solar thermal, based on a hot fluid, can integrate well with conventional thermodynamic cycles and power generation equipment, as well as with advanced, emerging technology. It offers dispatchable power when integrated with thermal storage, and thus good load matching between solar insolation (exposure to sunlight) and the strong growth (in many countries) in electrical demand during summer. The collector technology itself is constructed of predominantly conventional materials—glass, steel, and concrete, and no fundamental scientific breakthroughs are required for the cost to continue to drop. There is also the advantage that at a time when deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are being called for, solar thermal can be installed in large capacities, yet constructed of modular, repeated, well-known components.
The report does say that costs need to fall but, in our view, it does not give due weight to the environmental and hidden costs of the fossil-fuel and nuclear alternatives (see CSP costs). We understand that, in late 2009, the Clean Technology Fund of the World Bank is finalising a proposal to develop 1 GW of CSP.
Last updated: 2011-01-17