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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sustainable power makes a world of difference

AFP , 13 July 2009, reports twelve European companies launched a 400-billion-euro (560-billion-dollar) initiative to set up huge solar farms in Africa and the Middle East to produce energy for Europe.

The massive project could provide up to 15 percent of Europe's electricity needs by 2050. The electricity could begin flowing to Europe within 10 years.

Engineering giants ABB and Siemens, energy groups E.ON and RWE and financial institutions Deutsche Bank and Munich Re are among the companies which signed a protocol in Munich.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) would build solar-power generators from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and pump electricity to Europe via underwater cables. It would also provide a substantial portion of the power needs of the producer countries, transform sea water into drinking and irrigation water for local populations. Many details must still be worked out however, including where to install the plants, when the power would come on and how much it would cost, potential profits, political stability in some areas and the financing. Under the protocol, a Desertec study office to be established by October will have three years to elaborate plans to create the network of solar farms.

Other companies invoved are the Spanish firm ABENGOA Solar and the Algerian conglomerate Cevital along with several German banks and engineering companies.

The Siemens estimate that the solar farms could generate up to 100 gigawatts of electricity, the equivalent of 100 power plants.

The German Social Democratic deputy Hermann Scheer opined that it was not necessary to go to North Africa to collect the sun's rays. We could invest the 400 billion euros in the recession-hit eurozone. He also preferred a network of decentralised operators that produced renewable energy from many sources rather than having one key project in the hands of major corporations. Others doubt that producer countries would fully benefit from a plan designed with Europe in mind,and warn of potential "eco-colonialism."

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