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North African Solar Energy to Power Europe

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A consortium of German companies ready to fund ambitious green-energy project that will convert North African solar thermal energy to electricity for use in Europe.

Sunlight, an abundant and underused energy source in Northern Africa is one of most potent and environmental-friendly raw material for electricity. Plans are in high gear to tap this energy source for the construction of solar thermal power plants in the North African Maghreb region. A joint venture involving a consortium of 20 German companies will invest about 560 billion US dollars in building the plants, and adapting the European electricity grid to receive at least 15 per cent of its electricity from the Maghreb region. It is also expected to benefit North African countries. The project called DESERTEC is a low-tech solar thermal power concept, relies on mirrors in the desert to heat up water, which drive turbines in local power plants to produce electricity.

The power generated is then shipped across the Mediterranean to Europe. Many environmental activists have welcomed the project, but critics question whether it is feasible. The new agency IPS reports German parliamentarian Hermann Scheer, chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy and of the International Parliamentary Forum on Renewable Energies, dismissed Desertec as “another superfluous giant generator.” Scheer called instead for support for smaller sun and wind-driven power plants.

Desertec was developed by a network of scientists and politicians called the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC). Their vision is captured on video below, watch:

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