In order to reach the 2020 target of having at least 20% of energy produced from renewable sources, The European Union will invest in solar and wind energy in North Africa. The resulted clean power will be imported in the EU via a new electricity interconnector design. Electricity will be carried via these cables running under the Mediterranean Sea directly to Europe.
The European Energy Commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, declared on Sunday that solar and wind power will be harvested in the Sahara desert in a partnership with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The three countries will support building the infrastructure while the EU will export the technology, tools, machines and experts.
The first models will be up and running in the next 5 years and will provide some hundreds of megawatts to the European market. These initial volumes will later on increase up to thousands of megawatts, as projects include the 400 billion euro Desertec solar scheme. Desertec is a huge project that will only reach its complete capacity in the next 20 to 40 years.
Some environmental groups are afraid that the import of energy could also be made from non-renewable sources. Oettinger said that with an accurate technological monitoring, such energy imports will be prevented.
The Desertec project has drawn the attention of major companies such as Siemens, RWE and Deutsche Bank, who will participate and attract public money for the investment. The Sahara project is expected to be a disaster for oil and gas companies.