Desertec Industrial Initiative established

Twelve companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Munich this week to establish the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), the objective of which will be to analyse and develop the technical, economic, political, social and ecological framework for the carbon-free power generation project covered by Renewable Energy Magazine earlier this month.

The Desertec concept, developed by the TREC Initiative of the Club of Rome, describes how sustainable power for all regions of the world could be supplied using energy available in deserts. The founder companies of the DII, whose regional focus is on Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), will be: ABB, ABENGOA Solar, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Munich Re, M+W Zander, RWE, SCHOTT Solar and Siemens.

Dr. Hervé Touati, Managing Director of E.ON Climate & Renewables, said: “E.ON is convinced that the future belongs to solar technology in the long term. We share the Desertec vision of exploiting the sun’s energy on a grand scale to supply power to Europe and the African countries. E.ON is constantly expanding its involvement in solar power, especially in the field of solar thermal power plants – as envisaged for supplying power in the Desertec Initiative.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wolfgang Knothe, CEO of MAN Solar Millennium GmbH and member of the Board of Management of Solar Millennium AG, declared: “Desertec is a fascinating initiative and at the same time a major challenge worth working for. Our highly qualified engineers and managers are already facing such challenges and realising large solar thermal power projects in the Mediterranean region.”

The companies intend to establish a planning entity whose shareholders will include the Desertec Foundation. Among the DII’s main goals are the drafting of concrete business plans and associated financing concepts, and kicking off industrial preparations for building a large number of networked solar thermal power plants distributed throughout the MENA region.

The aim of Desertec is to produce sufficient power to meet around 15% of Europe’s electricity requirements and a substantial portion of the power needs of the producer countries. All of the DII's activities will be aimed at developing viable investment plans within three years of its establishment. The initiative’s clear focus on implementation is set out in the DII Principles for all future DII shareholders.

Besides the business opportunities for the companies, there are other economic, ecological and social potentials: greater energy security in the EU/MENA countries, growth and development opportunities for the MENA region as a result of substantial private investment, safeguarding the future water supply in the MENA countries by utilising excess energy in seawater desalination plants, and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and thus making a significant contribution to achieving the climate change targets of the European Union and the German Federal Government.

The DII planning entity is to be established as a GmbH (limited liability company) under German law by 31 October 2009. It is envisaged that other companies will join the DII once the company has been established. The aim is for the DII to include shareholders from a variety of different countries.

The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Desertec Foundation, Dr. Gerhard Knies, summed up the latest development in the Desertec Project: "The founding of the DII is a milestone in the Desertec Foundation's concept for global energy, water and climate security."

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