Heat from Africa to help sustain Europe’s electricity demand

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European Business giants have signed a $400bn energy initiative that would utilize North Africa’s heat to supply Europe with 15% of its energy needs in the near future. The Munich based syndicate is expected to start supplying Europe with electricity by 2015.

“The time has come to turn this vision into reality. That implies intensive co-operation with many parties and cultures, to create a sound basis for feasible investments into renewable energy technologies and interconnected grids. The move is pivotal in the transition of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to sustainable energy supplies,” said Paul van Son, chief executive of the energy consortium, Desertec Industrial Initiative.

Deutsche Bank, Siemens and the energy provider E.On, aim to produce solar-generated electricity with a vast network of power plants and transmission grids across North Africa and the Middle East. Massive solar energy fields would be built across North Africa’s Sahara desert, utilizing concentrated solar power technology (CPS), which uses parabolic mirrors to focus the Sun’s rays on storages of water.

The heavily-heated water will power steam turbines to generate electricity 24 hours a day, 52 weeks of the year, and the electricity will then be transported great distances to Europe, using hi-tech cables that suffer little conductive loss of power. According to prognostics, the project is expected to supply Europe with its energy needs by 2050.

A statement released by the Desertec Foundation indicate that some of the power generated by the Sahara solar energy fields will also be used by domestic African consumers.

A number of North African countries have expressed a strong desire to join the project, that utilizes the Sun, North Africa’s main sustainable natural resource. The initiative has also gained the support of the German government of Angela Merkel, who has already expressed a desire to offset her country’s dependence on Russian gas supplies.

The concept was first announced in 2007 by the Desertec Foundation, with small pilot projects based in North Africa, and is in line with the demands of the Sustainable Energy Coalition (SEC). SEC brings together more than 60 national and state-level business, environmental, consumers, and energy policy organizations to promote increased federal support for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and reduced federal support for unsafe or polluting energy resources.

Sustainable Energy Coalition members advocate federal energy policies that will lead to a cleaner environment, safe reliable energy technologies, and a secure, prosperous future for all Americans. Avenues for Coalition activity include policy decisions on the federal budget, electric utility restructuring, pollution prevention, Climate Change, and tax policies.

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