The Desertec Initiative announced two years ago its intentions to harness the power of the sun in the Sahara Desert. Now, the project is moving forward, with plans for the first construction to break ground in 2012. The 500-megawatt concentrated solar power plant (CSP) will cost a cool $2.8 billion and harness the power of the sun from the desert of Morocco. Desertec is a projected half-trillion dollar solar project that will occupy parts of the Sahara, the Middle East, and Europe. The potential for the project is great — if completed, it could produce enough electricity to meet 15-20 percent of Europe’s energy demand by 2050 while providing power to the Middle East and Northern Africa as well.
The ambitious green project has been in talks over the past few years, gaining support from leading companies and institutions across Europe, including the Desertec Foundation, Deutsche Bank, HSH Nordbank, and other financial and energy groups. The breaking news of the power plant in Morocco is the first exciting step in realizing the project. Coinciding with the EU’s pledge to derive at least 20 percent of their energy from renewable resources, they have turned to the Sahara’s immense, untapped solar power. The Moroccan power plant will commence with a 150-megawatt, 7.4 square mile solar plant, costing $822 million. It is the first step in completing the 500-megawatt project, and it will take 2-4 years to complete, starting next year.
Scientists at the Desertec Industrial Initiative remind us that our vast deserts get enough sun to power the world for a year in just SIX HOURS! Covering only 0.3 percent of the desert with solar panels could power all of Europe. The Desertec project is an important step in weaning the world off of fossil fuels and onto the bounty of renewable energy available.