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Comprehensive large-scale renewable energy plans

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Comprehensive large-scale renewable energy plans are underway across the world today. However, the largest and most daunting example is the current project in North Africa's Sahara desert. The DESERTEC Industrial Initiative (DII) will bring investors together in the worlds largest renewable energy project. The plan is expected to cost 555 billion dollars. (DESERTEC Website)


The vision of the DESERTEC Foundation is to supply 100 gigawatts (GW) of energy to North Africa and Europe, producing 15% of overall European energy. The project would send electricity overland and underwater through transmission lines from the Sahara to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and others.

The project will combine concentrated solar power (CSP), Photovoltaic Solar (PV), Wind, Hydro, Biomass, and Geothermal technologies.

(CC Image (left) courtesy of A Siegel via Flickr)

The stated goal of DESERTEC, according to their website is: "To provide climate protection, energy security and development by generating sustainable power from the sites where renewable sources of energy are at their most abundant."

The DESERTEC project is slated to be completed by 2050. The project would include over 90% renewable energies that would provide the majority of power to the European, Middle East, and North African (EUMENA) countries involved. The decarbonized energy network would use many forms of electricity generation, but would heavily rely on the deserts in North Africa and the Middle east, which receive enough solar energy in 1/3 of one day to power the world for more than a year. If this project succeeds, it will go a long way in combating climate change.

While the existing and proposed infrastructure would cross many nations, oceans, and other formidable terrains, costing more than half a trillion dollars at least, the vision for DESERTEC represents a positive and desperately needed step in the right direction. The intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) has worked with scientists around the world to understand, and give inputs on correcting, combating, and adjusting to anthropogenic climate change. DESERTEC represents an equally diverse and representative reaction to their warnings. While DESERTEC alone will certainly not solve our collective energy and climate problems, it may well serve as a template for others to follow as we move forward.

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(CC Image showing concentrated solar power reflectors and receivers by Alexchris (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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