21 June 2012
A joint power network involving North Africa, the Middle East and Europe (EUMENA) offers clear benefits to all involved. This is the key finding of the "Desert Power 2050" study, which was presented by the industrial initiative Dii in Munich on 21 June.
"Desert Power 2050" demonstrates that the abundance of sun and wind in the EUMENA region will enable the creation of a joint power network that will entail more than 90% renewables. This benefits all those involved: the nations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) can meet their expanding needs for power with renewable energy, while developing an export industry from their excess power with an annual volume worth more than 60 billion euros. By importing up to 20 percent of its power from the deserts, Europe could save 30 euros for each megawatt hour of desert power, according to Dii. This would be an economical strategy for successfully achieving the EU's climate protection goals.
The north and south would become the powerhouses of this joint network, supported by wind and hydropower in Scandinavia, as well as wind and solar energy in the MENA region. The wind and sun would be powerful ingredients in the joint energy mix, assuming a share of about a half and a quarter, respectively. Supply and demand will complement one other – both regionally and seasonally – according to the findings of "Desert Power 2050". With its constant supply of wind and solar energy throughout the year, the MENA region can cover Europe's energy needs without the latter having to build costly excess capacities. A further benefit of the power network is the enhanced security of supply to all nations concerned. A renewablesbased network would lead to mutual reliance among the countries involved, complemented by inexpensive imports from the south and the north.
The power requirements of the MENA states are likely to more than quadruple by 2050, totalling more than 3000 terawatt hours. Unlike in Europe, the population will also grow considerably by the middle of the century, thus heightening the demand for new jobs. Desert energy could be a stimulus for growth and make an important contribution when it comes to coping with the social and economic challenges in North Africa and the Middle East. A second phase of Desert Power 2050 ("Getting Started") will examine this topic in greater depth in the next few months, with discussions including political, scientific and industrial stakeholders. The objective is to formulate recommendations for the regulatory steps required in the years to come.