More practically, the German Aerospace Center has shown that CSP plants in the Sahara could generate more than 50 percent of the electricity needs of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in just 40 years.
Desertec has crunched the numbers on jobs: Just one 250 MW parabolic trough power plant requires 1,000 workers and engineers for a period of two to three years.
Of course, turning North Africa into a solar (and green employment) hub is hardly a one-nation job or responsibility. On top of the actual solar plants, the project requires quick establishment of expensive low-loss, long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines to export the power across the Mediterranean and into Europe.
The technology is ready to go. But deploying it would require cooperation, financing and favorable new laws and regulations from Germany and all the relevant EU nations and host African countries. No easy task, though the Desertec team remains optimistic:
Creating that favourable commercial environment is relatively easy in countries like Australia, China, India and the USA, where there is only one government involved, and it is harder to achieve when different countries have to co-operate (as in the EU and nearby sunbelt countries). However, with the right political will, these problems are solvable everywhere. It is in everyone’s interests that political leaders throughout the world take the necessary steps to facilitate DESERTEC developments.