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Desertec Initiative and Foundation

Financial Times, 2010-04-30

From Dr Gerry Wolff.

Sir, Your report “Solar project has many obstacles to clear” (April 27) confuses the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) with the Desertec Foundation (DF).

The DII is a consortium of blue-chip companies aiming to realise the Desertec concept across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The DF is a charitable foundation aiming to promote the Desertec concept in other parts of the world.

Like other charities, the DF does welcome donations. The DII will raise funds for investment through normal commercial channels.

Gerry Wolff,

Co-ordinator,

Desertec-UK

------------------------

The report referred to in the letter is here:

Solar project has many obstacles to clear

By Fiona Harvey in London

Financial Times, 2010-04-27

Sunshine has been the lifeblood of the Mediterranean economy, and the solar power industry is expanding, especially in Spain and Portugal.

But the most ambitious solar project is in north Africa. The Desertec Industrial Initiative is a plan to build a vast network of solar power plants and wind farms, covering the desert and stretching for hundreds of miles, and connected to an advanced electricity grid that will carry power generated round or under the Mediterranean sea to feed Europe’s appetite for energy.

Desertec – backed by a coalition of more than 10 big name companies, including Munich Re, the German insurer, Deutsche Bank, utilities RWE and Eon and Siemens – is likely to cost about $400bn (€302bn, £262bn). If successful, the project could supply as much as 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050.

Many obstacles need to be overcome. Building the solar power plants is just the start: the project will require vast tracts of land in several countries, and will have to build large interconnectors to take the power to Europe. There is the risk that the infrastructure could become a target for terrorists. And raising the money required will also be a huge task.

Perhaps in recognition of this, Desertec has taken the highly unusual step of soliciting donations from individuals through its website, pleading: “The more people who understand the full concept and recognise the possibilities it offers ... the faster the concept can become a reality.”

However, Torsten Jeworrek, member of the board of Munich Re, is optimistic: “The question is not whether we should do something, but how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and how this goal can be achieved in an intelligent manner, which results in a win-win situation for both the environment and the economy.”