African sun may power Europe

Twenty top German companies are combining their resources to harness solar power in north African deserts and then transport the clean electricity to Europe, the Guardian reported. If the project succeeds, Europe could be powered by solar energy within a decade. The businesses include some of the biggest names in European energy, finance and manufacturing.

The Desertec project is estimated to cost about 400 billion euros (US$554 billion). The consortium behind it, to be formed in July, will first raise awareness and interest among other investors in what would be the largest-ever solar energy initiative. Siemens, Deutsche Bank, the energy companies RWE and E.ON and others are to meet in Munich on July 13 to prepare an agreement.

“We want to found an initiative which over the next two to three years will put concrete measures on the table,” said Torsten Jeworrek, a board member of Munich Re, the German reinsurance company leading the project. Like other reinsurers, Munich Re expects to face mounting claims for damage caused by climate change in the coming years.

The companies assert that the solar project is an opportunity for them to drive forward the fight against climate change – and to position themselves at the top of the green technology industry.

If just 0.3% of the sunlight falling on the Sahara and Middle Eastern deserts was captured, it could provide all of Europe’s energy needs, according to the European Commission’s Institute for Energy. Morocco, Libya and Algeria have been suggested as potential project sites.

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