There are early indications that the environment could benefit from the Arab Spring. A $550 Billion plan for the world’s most ambitious solar project could be producing energy by 2015.
Paul van Son, the managing director of the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII), told Reuters that the awareness and interest in the project to turn sunshine into energy has grown with the spread of democracy across North African and the Middle East.
“We like the Arab Spring because it has opened up a lot of ideas and generated support for the project,” van Son said in a telephone interview. “We’re very supportive. The democratic structures fit very well with ours.”
Before the Arab Spring, there had long been concerns about the political stability in the region. Deserts are the perfect place for solar projects because they get more energy in six hours than the world’s population consumes in a year, DII says.
Fields of mirrors in the desert would gather solar rays from concentrated solar power (CSP) to boil water, turning turbines to electrify a new carbon-free network linking Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Projects like this could help the economy and create jobs in the country and throughout the region, especially for young people. van Son said he hopes Desertec can help bring Mediterranean nations closer together. “I believe large infrastructure projects like this can contribute to stability. It’s about the development of new industries in the region, investment, job creation and the transfer of knowledge and know-how,” he said.
The first 150 megawatts power plant will be built in Morocco, possibly generating power by 2015 or 2016, with further projects planned in Tunisia and Algeria.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.