Bosch follows Siemens out the door of Desertec renewable energy project

Nov 20, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog
Theoretical space needed for solar power plants to generate sufficient electric power in order to meet the electricity demand of the World, Europe (EU-25) and Germany respectively. (Data by the German Center of Aerospace (DLR), 2005)

(Phys.org)—Another German industrial giant has bailed out of the Desertec project, which is trying to safeguard the future of a green Europe with expanded use of renewable energy. Bosch has confirmed that it will no longer be a member of Desertec by the end of this year. A spokeswoman for Bosch told Reuters that "economic conditions (do) not allow a continuation of its membership." This marks the second German company to leave the consortium. News broke last month that German industrial giant Siemens was leaving Desertec too.

Desertec is a consortium that was set up in 2009, with a shared vision of Europe importing electricity from North Africa and the Middle East by 2050. The Desertec plan involves supplying Europe with a portion of its energy needs by 2050 by tapping the energy potential of the desert and transmitting that power via a grid across the Mediterranean.

Supporters recognized the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) as an ambitious in 2009, but skeptics looked at the flip side of "ambitious" and questioned whether it was too far-reaching and risky. With a projected budget of 400 billion euros, Desertec was hatched before the start of political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, which subsequently added to doubts that the project was going to be anything but easy. Nonetheless, as Spiegel Online reports, a key roadblock has been cost and , not politics. projects cost more to support than traditional fossil fuel plants. They also often require government subsidies. Siemens had announced its exit at a time when, in a drive to improve profitability, it was also dropping its solar business due to losses. Adding to the setbacks was a meeting earlier this month, where countries and organizations in Desertec were to sign an agreement to start up a 500 megawatt solar plant in Morocco. The idea was for the to feed across the Mediterranean to Spain. This time it was not Bosch or Siemens that backed off but the Spanish government. Sources said Spain was reluctant to sign because of likely problems foreseen in finding the money for project subsidies.

DESERTEC EU-MENA Map: Sketch of possible infrastructure for a sustainable supply of power to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EU-MENA) proposed by TREC

The thinking behind Desertec is nonetheless cost conscious. "If the European, North African and Middle Eastern regions work together, the transition to wind and solar energy can be achieved on a considerably more cost-effective basis than if each country were to develop its own wind and solar capacities individually. This is because electricity can then be generated at the most suitable locations and fed via a transmission network to the largest consumption centers," said Desertec.

According to the BBC, opportunities remain for Desertec, as "there have been suggestions that China might be willing to invest so that it can get access to technology." China wants a better understanding of high-voltage direct current cables, which would be bringing in power across the Mediterranean.

Explore further: Audi to develop Tesla Model S all-electric rival

More information: www.dii-eumena.com/home/about-us.html

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User comments : 8

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antonima
3 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2012
it seems like this would be a prime target for terrorism or even organized sovereign forces. If all it took to cut power off from europe was a few cords, it wouldn't take a genius to take advantage of that.
tadchem
2.2 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2012
"economic conditions (do) not allow a continuation of its membership."
Perhaps BOSCH has realized that the world economy is not so flush that Europe can afford to invest in a duplicate power generation system with a much expanded infrastructure (from a novel manufacturing sector to a separate transmission system) that is not resistant to cloudy skies, calm winds, calm seas, or a starving population that demands crops yielding food instead of fuel.
Caliban
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2012
"economic conditions (do) not allow a continuation of its membership."
Perhaps BOSCH has realized that the world economy is not so flush that Europe can afford to invest in a duplicate power generation system with a much expanded infrastructure (from a novel manufacturing sector to a separate transmission system) that is not resistant to cloudy skies, calm winds, calm seas, or a starving population that demands crops yielding food instead of fuel.


Perhaps you have overlooked the obvious fact that this generation capsacity is not to be built atop arable land -very little of which, as you know, exists in North Africa and the Middle East.

And it is highly unlikely that there would be, as you put it "cloudy skies, calm seas, calm skies" across the entire generating capacity -or even a significant portion of it-- at the same time.

And, deploying this evreyday-less-novel technology will lower cost, icrease efficiency, scale up production, and create more new technology
Contd
VendicarD
3 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2012
Or the BORG.

"it seems like this would be a prime target for terrorism" - Antonima

Terrorism is primarily the concern of nations who are themselves engaged in terrorist acts.
Caliban
3 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2012
contd.

...all while creating jobs and injecting money into the economy and generating government revenue.

So, when Siemans and Bosch say they are bailing out because of economic reasons, it is easy to see that that is exactly why they are doing it --they are faced with declining revenues from their other divisions due to the continued contraction of the global economy that began AFTER this project was begun.

Looks like it's time to have a talk with the boys from Basel.
Jimee
1 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2012
Every technology is vulnerable. The future is obvious.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2012
it seems like this would be a prime target for terrorism or even organized sovereign forces.

It's hard to blow up a solar power plant (or a wind farm). MUCH harder than to sabotage a nuclear reactor or a coal power plant.

But if you are referring to power lines: That problem is the same no matter what kind of power infrastructure you use. That's why a grid must always be somewhat redundant (you must have that, anyhow, since you will need to do maintenance on powerlines once in a while. Can't shut off half a continent just because you want to replace a piece of hardware)

cloudy skies

E.g. Morocco has 300 sunny days a year. Even on slightly cloudy days solar power plants produce some power. And continental metereology isn't THAT unpredictable so that you couldn't bring conventional powerplants online if really needed for a few days per year.

I'd rather have seen Bosch/Siemens do this. But if the Chinese want to do it. So be it.
italba
3 / 5 (2) Nov 24, 2012
it seems like this would be a prime target for terrorism or even organized sovereign forces.
Just like oil or gas pipelines?

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