Proving that we really are all in this together, Europe is considering plans to spend more than £5 billion on a system of large solar power stations in North Africa. This proposed solar power plan could provide the EU with a sixth of its electricity needs, and, as a bonus, provide fresh water to African nations. Though Europe would be the beneficiary, the panels and power stations would be placed along the Mediterranean desert shores of northern Africa and the Middle East, with the electricity transmitted via underwater cables to EU nations.

The plan, named Desertec, would produce billions of watts of power, providing Europe with a sixth of its electricity needs while significantly cutting carbon emissions. The northern Africa stations would also be used as desalination plants to provide African countries with fresh water.

While you may be skeptical of the outsourcing of energy production, proponents agree that the desert is an untapped resource of sunlight, and the plan would benefit both Europe and Africa. “We don’t make enough use of deserts,” said physicist Gerhard Knies, co-founder of the scheme. “The sun beats down on them mercilessly during the day, and heats the ground to tremendous temperatures. Then at night that heat is radiated back into the atmosphere. In other words, it is completely wasted. We need to stop that waste and exploit the vast amounts of energy that the sun beams down to us.”

Desertec has garnered support from the EU, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, and other nations in the region. It is currently being developed by the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation.

+ African Sun for EU Power