Over the last year Smart Grid Australia (SGA) has been following the interesting developments of DESERTEC. One such project is the construction of an entirely new high-voltage direct current supergrid (HVDC) covering Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA), parallel to the current network, which was developed on a country interconnection base with very weak interconnections. A group of European companies and the DESERTEC Foundation have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of putting the DESERTEC concept into effect in the EUMENA region. The companies involved include Siemens, Schott Solar, MAN Ferrostaal AG, ABB, E.On, RWE, Deutsche Bank and Münchener Rück.

The initiative was first launched by several academic professors – to invest up to €400 billion to build a pan-European high-voltage DC grid from massive solar heat power generation plants in North Africa, but also extending to Iceland’s geysers and Norway’s fjord dams for waterpower.

The driving force seems to be Munich Re. SGA recently reported that this group wants to reduce the increasing re-insurance risks it is experiencing due to claims caused by the bad weather effects of global warming.

According to Paul Budde of Smart Grid Australia, the main concern of Munich Re seems to be, not the money, but the governmental red tape involved – in particular to build a new long-distance HVDC grid across Europe, Middle-East and North-Africa (estimated at €50 billion) with the addition of the solar power generation plants (estimated at €350 billion).

“This must be one of the boldest energy plans ever undertaken and it will be very interesting to see if the new consortium can get it off the ground. It would mean a massive change to the energy industry, not just in this region but all around the world,” concluded Budde.

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