Thursday, October 7, 2010

An acronym in sustainable energy collaboration: Desertec for desert technology

The term Desertec stands for desert technology [1], which is somewhat of a misnomer since it refers to a solar energy concept. The noun “desert” in this phrase hints to the location where the technology is going to be installed, but not how it will work. The idea of Desertec is to generate solar electricity in sunny North Africa and move it across the Mediterranean Sea to less-sunny and higher populated European countries.

Desertec is now an ambitious multinational renewable energy project, going back to the vision of DESY particle physicist Gerhard Knies, who was rethinking energy production after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in the Ukraine in April 1986 [2].

The Desertec concept envisions generation of electricity by concentration of solar power, not photovoltaics. However, the integration of PV installations, wind energy, and other renewable energy production sites in regions north of Africa is planned. The clean technology expertise is at hand, but certain political and security questions—concerning both the solar-concentrating plants and the extensive electricity grid— still need to be solved.

Out-of-Africa dispersion, a strong hypothesis in anthropology, will become reality for electrical current.

Keywords: clean technology, sustainable development, multinational cooperation, energy politics

References and further reading
[1] Energy from the desert: Desertec & Solar City 2050.
[2] Daniel Clery: Sending African Sunlight to Europe, Special Delivery. Science August 13, 2010, 329, pp. 782-783.

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