NEWS

Sending African Sunlight to Europe, Special Delivery

Science  13 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5993, pp. 782-783
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5993.782

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Summary

Desertec, one of the world's most ambitious multinational efforts to scale up renewable energy, aims to build solar and other renewable power projects across North Africa and the Middle East capable of producing 500 gigawatts of electricity and so meet 15% of Europe's energy needs by 2050. Planners predict it will cost €400 billion or more to cover tens of thousands of square kilometers of desert with solar collectors and wind turbines, connected by thousands of kilometers of power cables. The project—which backers compare to the Apollo space program—has yet to generate a single kilowatt. But it has attracted an impressive roster of political and industrial supporters in Europe and North Africa. Still, analysts say Desertec faces an array of daunting challenges, from finding ready cash to overcoming thorny political and security issues.