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Club of Rome: Solar Power from the Deserts for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

 Erlangen/Brussels November 28, 2007. Today the Club of Rome presented its white paper "Clean Power from Deserts - The DESERTEC Concept for Energy, Water and Climate Security" to the European Parliament in Brussels. This white paper is based on studies by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) about solar thermal power generation as a safe, clean and cheap power supply for Europe and the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). The key technologies for the concept are solar thermal power plants with thermal storage for day/night operation and low-loss high-voltage direct current transmission to transport the clean energy from the MENA region to Europe.

Due to the higher solar radiation in North Africa, a solar thermal power plant located there can generate three times the energy that would be possible in Germany, for the same investment. Using the right cables, transport losses between North Africa and central Europe can be kept very low (approximately 10 %). If the concept is implemented, it could be possible to cover 10-25 % of the European energy demand using solar thermal power plants in the MENA region by 2050.

Solar Millennium AG, based in Erlangen, Germany, supports the Club of Rome initiative. The solar thermal power plant technology, which has proven itself over the last 20 years, is already available today. Solar Millennium, which is responsible for a number of power plant projects all over the world, has already implemented this technology successfully in southern Spain and Egypt. Christian Beltle, the Chairman of the Board, approves of the Club of Rome concept: "Importing energy from solar thermal power plants in North Africa gives Europe the possibility to effectively secure its power supply on a long-term basis through a greater mix of different energy sources. This is the ideal way to combine environmental sustainability and reliability of supply. The industry is ready to provide the solar thermal power plants as well as all necessary infrastructures."

More information can be downloaded as a pdf file:


Presentation of the White Book (from left to right): HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Former President of The Club of Rome; Dr. Gerhard Knies, Coordinator of TREC; Prof. Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament

About the Club of Rome:
The Club of Rome was founded in Rome in 1968. It comprises 100 members from all five continents. They come from different cultures, scientific disciplines and occupations. What they have in common is their concern for the future of humanity, which is faced with a number of existential challenges. The Club of Rome sees itself as an independent, worldwide catalyst for change. Apart from conferences and a network of contacts, the reports to the Club of Rome are an essential method for publishing the results of its work. The first report to the Club of Rome "Limits to Growth" by Dennis Meadows et al. was published in 1972. It is the foundation for the Club of Rome's reputation worldwide. Thirty more reports have followed since than, covering a wide range of visions for the future of humanity. For more information see www.ClubofRome.de.

About Solar Millennium AG:
Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, is a globally active company in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries, Solar Millennium specializes in parabolic trough power plants - a reliable, proven technology in which the company is a worldwide leader. The company covers all important business sectors of the value-added chain for solar thermal power plants, from project development to technology and the turn-key construction of power plants, to the operation and ownership of power plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe's first ever parabolic trough power plants, two of which are already under construction. Further projects are planned with a capacity of several hundred Megawatts are located worldwide, with the focus upon Spain, the USA, China and North Africa. The company is also developing solar chimney power plants, with the aim of making this technology ready for the market.

About the technology:
Solar thermal power plants generate electricity using heat energy captured from solar radiation. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the sun rays onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. Their absorption causes a heat transfer fluid to be heated in the pipe, generating steam in the power block by way of heat exchange. As with conventional power stations, the steam is utilized in a turbine to generate power; by integration of thermal storage, this power can then be supplied on demand. Thus, solar power plants can also generate electricity after sunset.