Bloomberg - 6 Nov 09

Prof. Robert B. Laughlin
Department of Physics
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305
(Copied 28 Dec 09)

Germany to Help Develop Moroccan Solar-Thermal Energy Projects

By Jeremy van Loon
November 6, 2009

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Germany plans to help Morocco develop a water-desalination plant and electricity generators using solar power as part of a larger program to expand the use of renewable energy in the North African nation.

Funding and specifics of the solar accord will be discussed at talks next week in Rabat between the two governments,Sabine Brickenkamp, a spokeswoman for the German economic cooperation and development ministry, said in an interview.

Morocco, the only country in the region with a power cable to Europe, imports 97 percent of its energy. The nation is vying with Algeria, Tunisia and Libya for 400 billion euros ($596 billion) of investments in solar-energy systems over the coming decades as the EU seeks to trim emissions from coal and natural gas power plants by importing clean power from the Sahara.

The nation of 36 million people this week announced a plan to invest $9 billion to install 2,000 megawatts of solar power through 2020, the equivalent of about two nuclear power plants and about 20 percent of Morocco's electricity consumption.

German companies including Munich Re, Siemens AG and RWE AG in July announced a plan called Desertec to probe the potential to generate electricity in North Africa using solar-thermal systems to pipe power in cables under the Mediterranean Sea to provide 15 percent of Europe’s electrical needs by mid-century.

Solar-thermal systems heat a fluid by concentrating the sun's rays on a tube. The liquid produces steam that turns turbines. The world's largest solar-thermal system is in California's Mojave Desert, operated by a group of U.S. companies.

Details of the desalination plant, which will use energy from the sun to extract salt from sea water, will be worked out next week, Brickenkamp said.