As reported in The Economist, Munich Re has invited 20 large companies to form a consortium, intended to build concentrating solar power stations in Africa and the Middle East, as well as the high voltage direct current (HVDC) lines required to bring that power to Europe. The stations will use molten salt heat storage, so as to be able to generate power day and night. Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, is motivated by concern about its exposure to climate change. Fully implemented, the scheme would cost $560 billion and provide 15% of Europe’s projected energy demand in 2050. The complete system would cover 17,000 square kilometres of territory.
Desert solar as a renewable energy option has come up here before.
All told, the plan is very promising. It is refreshing to see companies thinking strategically about the long-term harm climate change could do to them, as well as the long-term opportunities associated with renewable energy. A report produced by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy and the Club of Rome determined that the project could produce 240,000 jobs in Germany, as well as €2 trillion worth of electricity by 2050.
Even more importantly, it could demonstrate the feasibility of the desert concentrating solar / HVDC option, which could be extended to the Southern US and elsewhere. As David MacKay explains, this is one of the renewable options where the figures add up, and it could be possible to generate the kind of energy societies demand. Here’s hoping the Desertec plan helps lead the way.