MUNICH - According to exclusive information obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German, French, Italian, Spanish and Moroccan governments are pushing forward their green power “Desertec” project.
Electricity produced by a solar thermal plant in Morocco, which would cost 600 million euros to build, would supply Europe with renewable energy.
The planned power plant site is the desert outpost near the city of Ouarzazate, southeast of Marrakesh.
If all goes as planned, an agreement of intent will be signed in November and a governmental agreement will be signed by all five nations by June 2013, with other partners possibly coming on board as well.
Morocco’s Minister of Industry Abdelkader Amara confirmed plans for an international agreement: "Cooperation with Europe is an important axis in our energy strategy," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Plans for a Desertec conference in Berlin in early November 2012 were confirmed by a spokeswoman for Germany’s Ministry of the Economy.
While various hurdles still need to be overcome among governments, the European Union supports the plans. Two cables between Morocco and Europe have already been laid across the Strait of Gibraltar.
At the Munich headquarters of the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii), the private industrial consortium created to see the 150 megawatt solar project through, CEO Paul van Son told Süddeutsche Zeitung that “the next two years will see the desert electricity vision start to become practical reality.”
Dii is made up of over 50 international companies and organizations, including Deutsche Bank, Italy’s energy giant Enel, and the Saudi energy developer Acwa Power.
Financing for the project is to come from industry, national governments, and international energy organizations. Dii shareholders alone are ready to invest 200 million euros. "We are working closely with Masen, the Moroccan solar agency, the plans for the project are complete, industry is interested. Now we just have to see who pays what bills," says van Son.
Along with its longer-term goal to turn desert lands in North Africa and the Middle East into a source of renewable sun and wind energy, Dii also aims to cover 15% of European electricity requirements by 2050 with the desert-produced current. The entire investment is estimated at several hundred billion euros.
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