8 Nov 2012

Delay in deal for solar power from Africa

3:22 pm on 8 November 2012

An international solar power consortium says Spain is holding up a deal to feed solar power from northern Africa to Europe.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative consortium of 57 partners from 16 countries, had hoped to announce an agreement to build a 500-megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Morocco at a conference in Berlin.

Desertec chief executive Paul van Son said on Wednesday he was confident the government would be convinced soon. The power would be fed into the Spanish grid via underwater cables from northern Africa, Reuters reports.

Another setback came last month when Siemens of Germany said it was ending its involvement in the venture.

Desertec was founded three years ago. Based in Munich, DII envisages Europe importing up to a fifth of its electricity from solar and wind parks in North Africa and the Middle East by 2050.

However, there are no concrete ventures yet due to complicated negotiations between many partners.

Desertec has also struggled to attract investors and European companies are reluctant to commit.

The planned Morocco project in Ouarzazate in the Western Sahara would take up to four years to complete. In a first stage, the plant would produce 160MW.

Other renewable energy plants are planned in Algeria and Tunisia.