Wiring the Desert

Nature has a story on a massive Sahara-based solar energy proposal to be presented to the European Parliament in Brussels tomorrow (Thursday Nov. 28). The price tag mentioned in the story sounds enormous: US$595 billion. The political complications sound vexing. But hey, couldn’t be any harder than retrofitting coal plants for carbon capture, could it?

Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan was scheduled to present this green-energy idea, dubbed DESERTEC, to members of the European Parliament in Brussels on 28 November.

The vision is ambitious: it would require roughly 1,000 100-megawatt power plants, using mirrors to concentrate energy from the Sun’s rays, throughout the Middle East and North Africa to meet the region’s projected energy needs. A high-efficiency electricity grid, yet to be built, would then ferry the power around and across the Mediterranean Sea and northern Europe.