Monday, March 22, 2010

More Firms Join Desertec Solar Project

From the New York Times:

Desertec – the ambitious $550 billion dollar project to generate electricity for Europe and North Africa through large solar collectors arrayed in the Sahara desert – took a step closer to reality this week with the announcement that the Arizona-based solar manufacturer First Solar had joined the project.

”We believe that North Africa is ideal for renewable energy technologies,” said Pia Alina Lange, a spokeswoman for First Solar in an e-mail message. Ms. Lange said the company would contribute utility-scale photovoltaic technology and expertise as part of the project.

First Solar has previously developed utility-scale solar power plants in desert conditions in the United States, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

The company will be joining a consortium of other companies involved in Desertec — from the German insurer Munich Re and Deutsche Bank to the Spanish solar company Abengoa Solar and the Algerian food manufacturer Cevital.

Earlier this month it was also announced that more companies had joined the project.

”Five companies from Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, France and Italy will join the Desertec solar power project that aims to supply 15 percent of Europe’s power by 2050,” said Paul van Son, the chief executive of Desertec, in an interview with Reuters. Details of these companies have yet to be announced.

Environmental groups are also behind the initiative, albeit with conditions.

”In principle, we welcome the Desertec project, but it should not drive away investments from other renewable energy sources which Europe can build up on is own area,” said Sven Teske, renewable energy director for Greenpeace International, in an e-mail message....

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