German consortium plans huge African solar project

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A consortium of German companies want to use African solar power to provide up to 15 percent of Europe’s electricity needs.

Berlin -- German firms plan to club together next month to turn into reality a dream to generate electricity for Europe in the deserts of North Africa using solar power, a newspaper report said Tuesday.

The 20 or so firms will form on July 13 a consortium that aims to attract an enormous 400 billion euros (560 billion dollars) in investment in the project, known as Desertec, the Suedeutsche Zeitung daily reported.

It wants to place solar power installations in several countries in the region, provided they are politically stable, the paper cited Torsten Jeworek as saying, a board member of insurance giant and consortium head Munich Re.

He also said that he was "very optimistic" that other countries including Italy and Spain would join, and that there have been "positive signals" from North America as well.

"We want to create an initiative that will put on the table concrete implementation plans in the next two or three years," Jeworek said. "Technologically, the project is practicable."

He added that Desertec could provide around 15 percent of Europe's electricity needs. The Suedeutsche Zeitung said that the first electricity could begin flowing to Europe in 10 years.

A spokeswoman for German engineering giant Siemens, which the paper said would be a member of the consortium, told AFP that Desertec was a "very exciting project."

If fully realised, the project could generate 100 gigawatts of electricity, the equivalent of 100 power plants, the Siemens spokeswoman added.


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