Desertec Solar Hopes Cloud over as Support Starts To Waver  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

REW has an article on Algeria's decision not to support the DESERTEC solar thermal power project - Desertec Solar Hopes Cloud over as Support Starts To Waver.

A significant piece of good news for the ambitious €400 billion (Dh1.87 trillion, US $509 billion) scheme came in April, when one of its members, Germany's Solar Millennium, said its 150 MW Kuraymat project in Egypt was nearing completion and could serve as a template for other north African solar farms.

Then came the bad news with Algeria’s decision last month not to participate in the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which was formally launched last year by a group of 12 European companies, mostly from Germany. Last Monday (August 30), Paul van Son, the director of the group, said he was now also concerned about declining German government support for the project.

“We were surprised that after the project received strong support at the beginning, it wasn’t even mentioned in [Germany’s] energy concept draft,” he told Dow Jones on the sidelines of a renewable energy conference in Frankfurt. Mr. van Son said the Desertec partners needed subsidies, possibly through feed-in tariffs, to guarantee electricity prices that would cover the generation and transmission costs.

To push the project forward, Desertec was wooing potential investors from the Middle East and north Africa, he said.

“We are in intensive talks with companies in the MENA region, which we are trying to win as new shareholders,” Mr van Son told Reuters, without naming any candidates.

In March, the US company First Solar joined Desertec as its first member from outside Europe.

Earlier that month, Mr. van Son had said five companies from Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, France and Italy had agreed to join the consortium. But no confirmatory announcements have followed.

The group’s other existing partners include Munich Re, Deutsche Bank, RWE, E.ON, HSH Nordbank and Siemens from Germany, the Swiss ABB, Italy’s Enel, Spain’s Red Electrica and the French group Saint-Gobain.

Mr. van Son also said on Monday that a planned Moroccan pilot project still lacked investors.

“We’re in the very early stages, the letter-writing stage,” he told Bloomberg. In July, Desertec announced its plan for the small Moroccan solar facility as a way to test the feasibility of a large-scale concentrating solar-power project with a proposed capacity of up to 1,000mw. That would be 10 times the capacity of the US$600 million (Dh2.2bn) Shams-1 solar plant that Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government’s advanced energy company, is building in the emirate’s southern desert.

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