Now that Desertec has received financial support, the real work of planning the design of undersea transmission cables and hundreds of solar thermal plants begins. Developing the plan will take three years, at which point construction can begin.
Not everyone is a proponent of the project. Eurosolar, the European Association for Renewable Energy, claims that Desertec is an impossible feat because of the unstable political situation in North African countries combined with bloated construction costs. As Eurosolar’s head, Herman Scheer, points out, $555 billion injected into the struggling European economy–instead of foreign countries–could go a long way. And instead of putting all the solar power into the hands of big corporations, it might be more prudent to invest in smaller-scale distributed solar projects sprinkled throughout Europe.
Nevertheless, the Desertec project is moving forward. If the Desertec Industrial Initiative can overcome political concerns in North Africa, it will bode well for other solar projects in the area.