A mammoth project was launched Wednesday the 1st of December 2011. The World Bank agreed to lend 271 million dollars for the construction of solar thermal power plant in Ouarzazate, southern Morocco. With a capacity of 500 million watts (MW), the steam turbines powered by solar panels that will cover 12 km² will form the largest center of its kind.
This whole high-tech will be built by the consortium Desertec, composed of private companies, the Swiss multinational ABB. The transmission of electricity to Europe will be carried out using high-voltage cables that French firms will pose under the sea in the Straits of Gibraltar.
The Moroccan central, which should be operational in two Years with a cost of a total of 2.3 billion francs, is a flagship project of the Union of the Mediterranean. The project is based on the principle that each square kilometer of desert receives solar energy equivalent to an annual 1.5 million barrels of oil.
To better imagine what it represents, Desertec indicates that the annual energy consumption of humanity from all sources is equal to the energy the sun provides during 6 hours to desert areas.
The launch of this project, mainly supported by Germany, which gave up after the disaster at Fukushima nuclear power, however, was difficult. "Some Arab countries have been put off because they felt that Europe was entering a business neocolonial plunder of their resources," says a source close to the negotiations.
But eventually these nations have been convinced since the twenty solar power plants of 500 MW each to be built to run in different deserts of North Africa and the Middle East will also cover their energy needs.
Total network power is expected to reach a production capacity of 2000 MW of solar by 2020. And about 100 000 MW - for production of 100 nuclear reactors in the last generation - in 2050. This amount should be sufficient to supply 15% of consumption in Europe. The program costs are estimated at 500 billion francs from which 80 billion are for electrical transmission lines and submarine and 420 billion for power plants.
Basma – Green Energy International Correspondent – 03/12/11