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Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Dec 24

World Bank to Invest in North African Solar

Posted in Energy Industry | Energy Politics | Solar Power

North Africa Solar The World Bank will invest $5.5 billion for North African solar power projects. They have announced that initially World Bank will put in $750 million dollars from the Clean Technology Fund with the remaining amount will be arranged from other sources. World Bank is expecting to complete these projects by 2015. They are willing to include five countries in this project and hoping to triple world wide concentrated solar power technology (CSP) capacity. This relatively new technology uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a single point, heating water to drive turbines. Construction of the 11 facilities in the project is scheduled to begin in 2011. It is expected that the North African project will generate a total of 900 MW in capacity by 2020.

The project will save 1.7 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. That will be equal to taking 600,000 cars off the road. It is estimated that 10,000 jobs may be created by this project. This project will include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. It will provide energy to countries in the area as well as to Europe. Europe will act as the nerve center of the production jobs. U.K. is willing to invest 56 million pounds or $91 million USD in this project. Gareth Thomas is the International Development Minister. He shares his opinion, “Large-scale solar projects such as this have the potential to power the globe in the coming decades, offering us a route away from fossil fuels and limiting the potentially devastating impacts of climate change. Global financial support for renewable energy is absolutely vital if we are to meet the international emissions targets we are pushing for at Copenhagen.”

In terms of generating electricity it might not make a big impact, the project could change the economics and the quality of life for many in the region. It goes without saying that the solar project will give the necessary boost to the market for a growing solar infrastructure. The PR material claims “accelerate cost reduction for a technology that could become least-cost globally.”

The most important beneficiaries of the CSP project will be the citizens of North Africa. They will be able to use clean and green energy to power their homes. But a portion of this energy will be up for sale too. The energy can be exported to the nearby markets of Europe.

Shamshad Akhtar is the World Bank Regional Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He explains about the project, “This is a most strategic and significant initiative for MENA countries. The initiative would leverage energy diversification, while promoting Euro-Mediterranean integration to the benefit of MENA countries that will be able to exploit one of the major untapped sources of energy. This endeavor is far-reaching with global objectives, implications, and potential impact. It will facilitate faster and greater diffusion of this technology in this region which holds significant potential for CSP”.?

  • Mike Maybury

    This is a start! But we need to grow this project at a much faster pace. This $5 billion is about 1% of the final amount required.

    In order to grow ourselves out of the current world recession, creating more jobs, and reducing fossil fuel use in the area, I think that we should invest ten times as much annually. We will reach the target much sooner than 100 years then.

    If we aim to reach the capacity of 100 GW within one generation, we would really give a boost to other alternative energy schemes Europe-wide and Africa-wide. It will also give the opportunity for Aprican countries to cooperate and build a grid for energy, water and transport throughout the continent over the next two generations.

  • carl nelson

    $5.5 billion for 900 megawatt looks like $6/w to me. I can buy rooftop home PV for less than that. Zero misplaced, either by you or me?

  • Mike Maybury

    Carl, we need critical appraisals like yours. Whatever is done must be for the lowest cost relative to the quality etc. However, I think that the infrastructure and cabling is all part of the project.

    In the article above reference is made to the ‘relatively new’ technology. I understand that plants have been working for over 10 years in USA, Spain etc. for over 10 years. Some store the heat in molten salt, enabling the generators to work round the clock. The reliability of sun in the Sahara appears to be a bonus, and other sources of energy can be plugged into the system, thereby reducing risks, and possibly costs.

  • Ron Wagner

    I wonder how much graft is involved in these deals. Looking back to the oil for food shenanigans. Who audits these deals? Where does the money come from, originally. Taxpayers.

  • Jim Miller

    These plants use a huge amount of fresh water.  I wonder where in N. Africa they intend to get it.  Also, these undersea cables are subject to damage from ship’s anchors and from terrorists attacks.  Little or nothing is said about using most of the electrical energy to improve the quality of life of the N. Africans.   The net effect is to make the North African countries, colonies of Europe — again.  The concentrated solar thermal technology is very interesting and potentially useful — if in the right hands and used for good purpose.

  • Bruce Rhodes

    Thank you Mr. Jim miller. If energy is not produced locally then it is not sustainable. Empower your local communities to produce their own power. Local food, energy,and self sustainability my be the cure for many of our on this planet.

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