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Best Idea Since Jesus on a Stick with Wheels: DESERTEC is back in the news.

Desert solar project could power 5 million EU homes, feed thirty-seven families of 18 in Tunis, maybe.

[Sheik] Kevin Sara claimed that an initial 250MW could be up and running, powering Europe via an interconnector with Malta, by 2020. It would mean an extra 1,000GWh of clean power a year being made available to the European grid.
[...]
Italy and Malta's energy grids are already connected via a 95km link that came online in 2015....The second stage of the plan is to construct Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) towers with a capacity of 2.25GW, which would be connected to Italy, just south of Rome, via another cable that would deliver 9,000GWh per year.
[...]
Although both DESERTEC and now TuNur have faced criticism and accusations of "colonisation", the project insists that its planned facility will help prevent desertification and minimise water consumption. An impact study also predicts that 2,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs could be created.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Aug 4th, 2017 at 08:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is insane, (yet still better than the status quo).
Why not start with Greece, Spain and Italy?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 5th, 2017 at 01:05:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody is stopping them, but land prices and corruption.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 5th, 2017 at 07:04:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And austerity.

Spain was building large thermal solar. Austerity killed the industry.

by fjallstrom on Mon Aug 7th, 2017 at 10:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rajoy killed the project in the name of austerity. But austerity is often about not doing SOME things that SOME wealthy an influential people don't like. Spaniards can clarify - hopefully.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 8th, 2017 at 12:34:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's  really good idea. There is a shortage of jobs in the N Saharan states and this ongoing development could be the start of something big. Especially if they build the cell fabrication factories to keep everything local.

If they were to put the entire array on stilts (eg melted sand poles) then you owold get much lower evaporation from soil and agriculture would benefit.

Have solar powered (direct or not) fresh water and you could pump that inland. Keep building that infrastructure and over time it could be significant.

And if they gave over say 10% of land to coppice trees whose produce were to be sunk in deep water, they cold begin to offset carbon (a bit).

All round fabulous idea.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 5th, 2017 at 07:03:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar power in North Africa for North Africa is a great idea. Building Europe's energy infrastructure outside Europe is not such a good idea.
by fjallstrom on Mon Aug 7th, 2017 at 10:38:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is importing sustainably produced electricity worse that importing oil or gas to provide for Europe's energy needs? And the Sahara has far more solar power potential than its sparsely distributed population could ever need.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 8th, 2017 at 12:11:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In an ideal world this would be a highly mutually beneficial trade arrangement. But where and when have trade arrangements ever been other than the masks for power arrangements? But still, the benefits to African host companies could well exceed the drawbacks, especially if the interests of the average citizen of the African country involved are given some weight. Local elites always benefit - unless they oppose and are overthrown for so doing. England has form, Ireland less so.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 8th, 2017 at 12:29:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More electricity than they will ever need? goodlord, what is the installed capacity and utilization of electricity in the several north African nations that warrant surplus export to global North rather than global South?

I haven't looked it up lately. But I did read this.
UN projects world population to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, driven by growth in developing countries

Moreover, the report reveals that during the 2015-2050 period, half of the world's population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Indonesia and Uganda.
[...]
During this period, the report said, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, 10 African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

Let's hope these people won't ever "need" iPhones, server farms, smart homes, Sub Zero refrigeration, public water & sewage systems, or EVs.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 01:39:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure the Sahara has the space to provide that too, but those countries might be better off installing their own solar capacity. Europe's problem is being up north.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 02:03:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm, yes, well, Edward Said is nodding.
And so in the late twentieth century the imperial cycle of the last century in some way replicates itself, although today there are really no big empty spaces, no expanding frontiers, no exciting new settlements to establish.

No doubt Leopold said something like that, too.
Belgian rule in the Congo was based on the "colonial trinity" (trinité coloniale) of state, missionary and private company interests.[7] The privileging of Belgian commercial interests meant that large amounts of capital flowed into the Congo and that individual regions became specialised.

Best idea since Jesus on a stick with wheels. Even "communist"[!] CHINA is at it! o, no.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 02:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't make any sense.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 02:50:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which part?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 02:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe try saying what you mean rather than asymptotically approaching it?

I suspect you're passing some comment on the ownership structure - which yes, much better this was locally owned - but it could be something else.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 03:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've no reason to believe that I'm "passing some comment on [TuNur] ownership structure". The passage (above) I selected to quote denotes the latest rhetorical version of the "ownership structure" of the DESERTEC project.

eurotrib comment history

Furthermore, I posted links identifying its "Main Shareholders" (quoted from the sources) as well as historical reference to trinité coloniale, or "ownership structure," on which expected returns from DESERTEC investment evidently rely. And every eurotrib subscriber should by now be familiar with common practices in P-P financing of renewable NRG infrastructures (except the preposterous claim "prevent desertification" of the Sahara).

I gather, that benefit claim passed you by.

With this information, I conclude as I did nearly 10 years ago: DESERTEC is another ill-conceived, morally bankrupt, and cynical predation proposal. Defense of  purported interests in it for "North African" hosts [!] by some commenters here was predictable.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 04:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well once the stuff is built the question of ownership can be revisited...
by generic on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 02:36:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mmmm, no. The re-visiting and re-imagining are not in the contract language of contemporary "green energy" public-private project financing, even in the USA. Here tax payers lease the lines laid by private owner-operators. In perpetuity.

'Twould be a shame that Gadaffi is dead but for his ebil, dictatorial, and klepto-maniacal scheme to compete with the crazy IMF/World Bank.

African Monetary Union (UMA)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 02:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He didn't say electricity, Cat, he said potential.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 09:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed! And just because, historically, almost all benefits of European or US FDI have flowed to the investor with a small bit flowing to local elites that we call 'corrupt' and they think of as 'traditional' does not mean that more broadly shared benefits are not possible. Especially were the foreign investors make that a requirement. We should not assume that this is categorically impossible.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 03:36:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm, yes, well, given outcomes of prior trials, what are the odds that a privately-owned commercial business will require distribution of specific benefits of public utility for "North Africa" in order to begin construction of DESERTEC?

Have you a recent example?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 05:07:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not for North Africa, Oakland under Jerry Brown did impose some 'affordable housing' requirements on developers. Point being that it is possible, not that it is likely. And we are full speed ahead in the opposite direction presently in the USA with Public Money in Private Pockets Partnerships.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2017 at 02:17:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I responded to this comment.
How is importing sustainably produced electricity worse that importing oil or gas to provide for Europe's energy needs? And the Sahara has far more solar power potential than its sparsely distributed population could ever need.

There are several assumptions, possibilities or "potentials," expressed by these statements, but catalytic conversion of (sun)light into transmmitable electricity is not one of them. The purpose of DESERTEC construction is to collect and transmit electricity. The proposed construction site(s) is not co-located with end-users, because Europeans have less electricity than they need or live in darkness.

Or do they?

A show of sophistry by a person of your age is unbecoming.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:46:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany has very large amounts of solar power, but the utility of that power is limited by latitude seasonally. That is the chief reason for wanting to locate solar facilities in equatorial regions. Technically the biggest limitation is power transport. Else the equator would be ringed with solar power installations.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2017 at 04:14:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

in "World Energy 2.0" (2007), courtesy: melo.

Am I to understand then, northern hemisphere grids (EU, Germany specifically) which are too far from the equator to exploit "local solar irradiance", ought to define investment in and feasibility of decentralized PV installation, generation, and transmission everywhere else on the planet?

How catholic.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Aug 12th, 2017 at 06:34:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I neither said nor implied any of those things. My point was that, while being limited seasonally by latitude, solar WAS able to make a significant, cost effective, contribution to the grid even in Germany. Of course the same equipment, installed within 20 degrees of the equator, would give a much better result. So it becomes a trade-off of transmission cost vs. reduced generation. Were technology to greatly reduce the transmission cost then locating solar generation near the equator would become more desirable. Morocco is currently of interest because of its proximity to Spain and the European grid. But Spain would do just fine, IMO, were it not for local idiot politicians like Rajoy who shut down planned projects for political purposes as well as rendering existing facilities less viable by changes in regulations.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 13th, 2017 at 05:38:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
m'k.
I did ask. Now I know. Equatorial PV installations are useless unless their transmission terminates as far away as the northern hemisphere, eg. EU consumption.
Technically the biggest limitation is power transport. Else the equator would be ringed with solar power installations.

So.
Morocco is currently of interest because of its proximity to Spain and the European grid.

Who specifically, what organization, is suppose to fund and construct PV installation and transmission lines to export surplus electricity to Spain from Morocco, if not the ideal ring around the equator?

Not being a member, I'm ignorant about Club of Rome networking activities in Morocco.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Aug 13th, 2017 at 03:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL! Impute any assumptions you want to what I say. But I do believe that African countries should build their own PV installations for their own people and their neighbors with what ever money can be pried from the hands of their own elites. That is what governments ought do, even if so doing is the exception and not the rule in most countries today - notably so in the USA.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 13th, 2017 at 03:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do believe that African countries should build their own PV installations for their own people and their neighbors with what ever money can be pried from the hands of their own elites.

Have you any recent examples to support this belief?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Aug 13th, 2017 at 04:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was a normative, not a positive statement, and NO, I have no examples that spring to mind - sadly. The general situation regarding leadership in most of Africa is dispiriting. But then so is it in the USA.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 14th, 2017 at 01:44:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Equatorial climates tend to be suboptimal because they involve lots of rain and cloud cover. Desert climates like the Sahara are ideal, and not just because of their proximity to Europe. Transmission costs need not be excessive once economies of scale are achieved.  The Sahara isn't much good for anything else. It could be a very good export and foreign currency earner for Saharan countries were it not for political instability threatening installations and transmission lines. Failing that, southern Spain would be the ideal locations were it not for a lack of political imagination.

Note, however, that production tends to peak around midday which might limit power availability at other times.  Ideally an east west middle eastern and north African grid spanning form Saudi to Morocco would provide power throughout most of European daylight (and peak demand) hours. In the longer term, a global grid extending all the way to Mexico could provide power throughout northern hemisphere daily demand cycles and valuable revenue and employment for more southern countries. (In return, northern installations could provide wind power for more southern countries at night or in winter).

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 13th, 2017 at 06:23:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, on either side of the equator by 20 degrees I should have said. Namibia is another great location. It could power South Africa and most of Africa south of the equator if adequately built out. Similarly with Mozambique on the east coast. Solar thermal and east-west interconnects could stretch the time period served.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 14th, 2017 at 01:49:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A north south Namibia Sahara interconnect could also help to re-balance summer/winter production peaks more in line with demand cycles.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Aug 14th, 2017 at 10:30:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was hoping for a closely-held Belgian cartel, yanno, to close the arc of land-grabbing history, but these are the north Africans who TuNur is fronting.

"Main Shareholders"
Nur Energie: UK hedge fund
Armonia LLC: US hedge fund
Low Carbon: UK hedge fund
Zammit Group: a Maltese mafia
Cluster energie tunisie: crude, gas, agro, mining, electricity FTA tenders (by currency value)

Main "Stakeholders"
République Tunisienne Ministère de l'Industrie? Not so much

Let's recap: sparsely populated, R2P-shorn, unemployed beneficiaries of DESERTEC seek high-stake ROI from inverted FDI (formerly known as tax evasion, off-shore tax shelters).


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 01:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Loving Rome means cleaning it up
What constitutes a "mafia"? The term was first applied to Sicily's Cosa and also to a criminal organization in the United States. In Italy it is also widely used to refer to the Camorra in Campania, and the `Ndraghetta in Calabria. Article 416 of the Italian Criminal Code states "an organisation is of a mafia-type when those participating in it take advantage of the organisation's power of intimidation and of the resulting conditions of submission and omertà (culture of silence) in order to commit criminal offences..." By this definition, is there a [Maltese] mafia?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Aug 12th, 2017 at 02:18:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodgy investors with hot money will fill the void if state investors don't have the political will, imagination, resources and access to low interest capital to take the initiative on what would be perceived as high risk and hugely capital intensive projects. Ideally the EU would enter into state level cooperation agreements with Saharan countries.  The amount of capital required to generate economies of scale and profit margins sufficient to cover interest costs might preclude smaller entities from taking the lead, although pension funds might like the long term return characteristics of such projects. Get rich quick small scale investers, less so.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Aug 14th, 2017 at 10:40:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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