"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rats Deserting the Desertec ship

The Desertec project envisions a significant portion of Europe's energy coming from solar thermal plants like this one.
Desertec must be the silliest scheme ever hatched by European bureaucrats. The scheme was to supply a large part of Europe's power from solar farms across deserts in Africa, Morocco in particular . Only in the twisted hive mentality of green Eurocrats would North Africa seem a suitable place to site vital power generation facilities. Maybe the solar panels were going to be bomb-hardened  and cables put underground.
Anyway Siemens and Bosch have seen the writing on the wall and are pulling the plug and I guess others will follow.

A multi-billion-euro project to harness renewable energy in the Sahara Desert, known as Desertec, has lost another big partner: German tech giant Bosch says it is jumping ship by the year's end.
The company's three-year contract expires at the end of December. "We will not be extending our partnership," a spokeswoman for Bosch subsidiary Rexroth toldFinancial Times Deutschland on Tuesday, saying the company was refocusing its priorities.

Desertec is looking to make use of solar energy from Northern Africa and the Middle East in the decades to come. "The aim is to supply around 15 percent of Europe’s electricity by 2050," the Desertec Foundation's website said. 

Yet despite gaining backing from big firms, progress on the project has been markedly slower than expected. 

Bosch's announcement came shortly after German engineering heavyweight Siemens, which is abandoning its solar power business altogether, said it would not stay on as a shareholder in the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII).

DII confirmed Bosch's decision, telling the FTD it "regretted the move." Bosch Rexroth was one of the initiative's associated partners. 

But DII said the number of companies associated with the initiative was set to rise by the year's end. 

Bosch Rexroth's involvement in Desertec is focused on technology exchange and expert workshops. The company produces substructures for solar power farms, which allow units to be positioned toward the sun. But like other sectors of the company, Bosch Rexroth has felt the impact of slumping sales in Europe - prompting it to review and refocus its activities. 


Der Spiegel is also writes pessimistically about the project:
Supporters hailed the Desertec Industrial Initiative as the most ambitious solar energy project ever when it was founded in 2009. Major industrial backers pledged active involvement, politicians saw a win-win proposition and environmentalists fawned over Europe's green energy future. For a projected budget of €400 billion ($560 billion), the venture was to pipe clean solar power from the Sahara Desert through a Mediterranean super-grid to energy-hungry European countries.
Today, a scant three years later, there is still little to show for the project but the ambition.
The list of recent setbacks in daunting. The project has failed to break ground on a single power plant. Spain recently balked at signing a declaration of intent to connect high-voltage lines between Morocco and the rest of Europe. In recent weeks, two of the biggest industrial supporters at the founding of the initiative, Siemens and Bosch, backed out. And perhaps most tellingly, though last week's third annual Desertec conference was held in Berlin's Foreign Ministry, not a single German cabinet minister bothered to attend.
"Much to his regret, Minister Rösler could not participate in the third Dii Desert Energy Conference due to conflicting schedules," the German Economy Ministry said in a statement explaining Philipp Rösler's absence. "Notwithstanding, the federal government, in principle, is willing to support a Desertec pilot project in Morocco. However, there are several open questions. Therefore, Minister Rösler has advised against too much euphoria."
Political backing for energy from the desert, in other words, is evaporating.
The hurdles facing the project, to be sure, have always been high and have become more challenging in recent years. For one, political strains in North Africa have multiplied as the Arab Spring destabilized the political landscape in the region and, in some cases, reignited the historical distrust that exists among neighboring countries. Furthermore, energy needs in the Middle East and North Africa are growing even as a lack of experience and a challenging regulatory environment produce new challenges.
'Where Is the Tax Money?'
Finally, energy policy and security policy tend to go hand in hand. For all the initial enthusiasm, countries have been hesitant about plunging into a large, cooperative grid in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The result is a paucity of public investment funds.
"It's a shame," said Dr. Wolfgang Knothe, a co-founder of the Desertec Foundation, a non-profit organisation which is a significant motor pushing the Desertec idea forward. "We should say we're closing the whole thing down because we have no political support."
Hans-Josef Fell, a parliamentarian with the Green Party who attended the Dii conference last week, was frustrated as well. "The ministers are not here. They feared the question: 'Where is the tax money?'"


2 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Completely agree with opening para.
    I was intending to say more but am feeling speechles at the Pollyanna-ish inanity of this and all greenenergy.
    (What could possibly go wrong.)

    ReplyDelete