Renewable energy bridging continents
Markus Balser*

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.

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation.

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Boris Johnson tells France — not so eloquently — to prenez un grip

Bertrand Hauger


PARIS — I'll admit it straight away: As a bilingual journalist, the growing use of Franglais by French politicians makes my skin crawl.

Not because I think this blend of French and English is a bad thing in and of itself (it is!), or because the purity of the French language should be preserved at all costs (it should!) — but because in a serious context, it is — at best — a distraction from the substance at hand. And at worst, well …

But in France, where more and more people speak decent English, Anglo-Saxon terms are creeping in everywhere, and increasingly in the mouths of politicians who think they're being cool or smart.

Not that long ago, Emmanuel Macron was dubbed "the Franglais president" after tweeting "La démocratie est le système le plus bottom up de la terre" ...

Oh mon dieu

They call it Frenglish

It is much rarer when the linguistic invasion goes in the other direction, with far fewer English-speaking elected officials, or their electors, knowing more than a couple of words of French. (The few Brits who use it call it Frenglish)

Imagine then my horror last night watching British Prime Minister Boris Johnson berating France over the recent diplomatic clash surrounding the AUKUS submarine deal, cheekily telling UK media from Washington: "I just think it's time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break."

Cringe. Eye roll. Facepalm.
Here's the clip, in case you haven't had your morning cup of awkward.
Grincement de dents. Yeux au ciel. Tête entre les mains.

First, let me offer a quick French lesson: Sorry, BoJo, you needed the "infinitif" form here: "It's time for [us] to prendre un grip about this and me donner un break."

But that, of course (bien sûr), is not the point in this particular moment. Instead, this would-be bon mot is not just sloppy and silly, it is incredibly patronizing, particularly when discussing a multi-billion deal that sparked a deep diplomatic crisis in the Western alliance.

The colorful British politician is, alas, no stranger to verbal miscalculations and linguistic gaffes. He's also (Brexit, anyone?) not necessarily one who cares about preserving relationships with longstanding partners. This time, combining the two, even for such a shameless figure as Mr. Johnson, only one word came to my bilingual brain: Vraiment?

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