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The DESERTEC Concept for Climate Protection and Development

Published by the DESERTEC Foundation Edited by Christoph Kronabel, Sabine Jungebluth and Ignacio Campino Forword by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan Translation by Sumiko Tanaka and Dan Storey

CEP Europ채ische Verlagsanstalt (CEP European Publishing)

The book Global “Energiewende” was made possible with support from:

Acknowledgements The book Gobal “Energiewende” is the collaborative work of more than fifteen authors from Germany and abroad, all specialists in their fields, who have generously allowed their respective expertise to be included in this publication free of charge. Christoph Kronabel, Sabine Jungebluth and Ignacio Campino were in charge of coordination and editorial supervision of the translation. Stephan Krüger arranged for the financing of the book. Susanne Schmidt oversaw the design. Andreas Huber and JUNGMUT Communication (Cologne) gave additional support.

and Peter Eich, Gisela Gallehr, Hani Nokraschy, Peter Schomberg and Jack Steinberger

The joint effort for the mere formation of the Global “Energiewende” is a reflection of the DESERTEC Concept itself – only by working together will the DESERTEC Concept be realized. Nevertheless, we give special individual thanks on behalf of the editing staff to all those involved. In addition to this note of thanks, if only for the sake of our authors’ efforts, we hope a broad audience and wide readership meet this book. We wish to dedicate this piece of work to the memory of our former colleague Mrs. Sabine Jungebluth. She was a driving force in this project and passed away on the 9th of May, 2013. We will remember her as an untiring fighter for the DESERTEC idea.

© 2011by the CEP Europäische Verlagsanstalt GmbH, Hamburg ( all rights reserved. This includes the right of translation, reproduction (including photo-mechanical), electronic storage on a disk or in a database, physical and intangible reproduction (including screen images or data transmission). The printing and paper used meet the most stringent environmental standards. The cover and internal pages are printed on 100% recycled, chlorine‐free paper that has been given the Blue Angel seal of approval. Printing follows

( green technology standards

and uses mineral oil‐free organic plant‐based inks (renewable resource). To compensate for the greenhouse gases emitted, a certified climate protection investment equivalent to 27,706 kg of CO2 has been donated to the Gold Standard climate project “Wind energy in Prony and Kafeate” in New Caledonia. Climate Partner Certificate, ICS number 072-53160-0911-1263 Publisher:

The nonprofit DESERTEC Foundation, Hamburg (


Susanne Schmidt



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Introduction to the English version


After the big success of the German version of this book we decided to translate the work. The English version you are now holding in your hands is the first translation and further ones will follow with Spanish coming next.

Foreword by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan

With the translations we want to foster the proliferation of the DESERTEC concept in the World and to offer all interested decision makers from the business community, politicians, specialists and interested people the opportunity to learn more about the DESETEC concept in their own languages. On a global basis and through all parts of society it is meanwhile undoubtedly accepted by a majority of opinion leaders that a fast and complete transition to renewable energy is a mandatory step for mankind to secure sustainable living conditions for our children and grandchildren. Not only because of energy and climate security but also with regard to a reliable supply with drinking water, food, with regard to education, local value creation and socioeconomic development and last but not least with regard to collaboration between nations and cultures we have to find a way towards a renewables-based economy. The conversion of global overall energy market is the biggest endeavour and revolution mankind has ever faced. In order to make it happen not just the technical and financial framework has to be settled, the energy transition will have to take place in people’s minds first. This is the basis for sound decisions in politics, industry, academia and last but not least civil society. The Global “Energiewende” is a contribution to this target.

Introduction by Max Schön


Chapter 1 > The DESERTEC Concept > Thiemo Gropp/Gerhard Knies


Chapter 2 > Climate > Hartmut Graßl

22 24 28 30 32 34 35

Basic principles The increased greenhouse effect The water cycle reaction Projected climate change Possible global warming by 2100 Renewable energies as a solution

Chapter 3 > Energy > Jürgen Schäfer Energy production and energy distribution Global use of renewable energies Photovoltaics and Concentrating Solar Power Wind energy Geothermal energy Biomass Hydropower Future Smart Grids

Chapter 4 > Water > Franz Trieb Thiemo Gropp and Ignacio Campino Directors DESERTEC Foundation


The water problem – a development problem The water problem – a cost problem The water problem – an energy problem The water problem – an environmental problem DESERTEC and seawater desalination

Chapter 5 > Social implications > Maritta Koch-Weser Energy and economic poverty The social potential Implementation of the DESERTEC Concept

Chapter 6 > Safety, freedom and justice > Karl-Martin Hentschel Poverty and water scarcity refugees Imported electricity Safety and security The resource curse, monopolies and good governance

36 38 40 42 46 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 76 80 84 86 90 94 96

Chapter 7 > Economy > Christoph Kost The renewable energy market Electricity production costs

98 100 104

Chapter 8 > DESERTEC-Implementation > Michael Straub, Gerhard Knies, Peter Höppe, Ulrich Hueck, Meriem Rezgaoui, Dirk Scheelje/Christian Jussen


Origins: “Sun of 1913” TREC and DESERTEC: concept beginnings Dii GmbH Industry Initiative Spanish country initiative Moroccan country initiative Political initiative: Schleswig-Holstein/Morocco

112 114 118 122 125 128

Frequently asked questions Authors Abbreviations Energy statistics Energy units/conversions Glossary Sources Picture credits

132 136 138 140 142 144 147 160


Foreword The fossil fuels that have driven social and economic development for more than two centuries have now become the greatest, single threat to future growth and human security on our planet. Low costs and availability of fossil fuels have long formed a significant component within an unsustainable cycle, compelling populations to expand their use ever more rapidly. Today, we realize that we are approaching an important tipping point in our history, where “business as usual“ cannot continue without severely overshooting the carrying capacity of planet Earth. In fact, we have arrived at a place where those challenges to the global climate, which come as a result of powering our present forms of civilization by fossil fuels, are progressing at unprecedented rates and exceeding the capacities of our natural and social systems to adapt. Today, it can no longer be denied that social and natural systems are endangered – not only for some sub-regions or communities which are suffering from desertification or extreme weather conditions – but for all. A concept which I find particularly useful for understanding the impacts of various groups and nations on the Earth’s biosphere has been offered by Professor Manfred Max-Neef of the Universidad Austral de Chile. Rather than calculating impacts based on population and per capita income alone, Dr. Max-Neef, who has coined the term, “Ecoson,” or, “the ecological person,” examines “the energy budget per capita” to understand how culture, development and productivity combine to create differences in the energy consumption and waste patterns of populations. His work allows us to more clearly understand the true size of our own and others’ ecological footprints, in relation to energy consumption demands and the limits of our biosphere. In view of the scientific evidence provided by climate science we are compelled – not only to continue to innovate – but also to pursue ways to move forward in addressing the overarching threat to nature and the future development of humanity. While it may no longer be ‘a world at war,’ this threat remains man-made. By increasing the temperature and accelerating the rate of global climate change, we are endangering the survival of entire local and regional ecosystems, including those on which our own human food chain depends. Let us not forget that the various natural systems on our planet emerged through long processes of evolution. So is it possible to recover the balance between modern civilization and nature on a planet with a world population heading towards 10 billion people with growing economic needs? To regain this balance we would need a form of energy that doesn‘t damage natural habitats and respects their capacities. Renewable energy, and in particular solar energy, can power the needs of equitable, human development: providing sufficient energy for homes and industry, and fresh water through desalination without harming the environments in which we live.

Solar energy is now economically viable and can be used in an environmentally friendly way. In some parts of the world, solar has become the most cost efficient renewable and has achieved parity with nuclear energy costs. It should also be kept in mind that because of climate change the renewable energy solutions traditionally employed, such as the building of large dams for hydropower or large-scale production of crops for bio-fuels, may no longer be compatible with changing local environmental conditions in the future. How can we harness energy from renewable and clean sources in environmentally friendly ways and at a scale that can meet present and expected future demand? The deserts of the Earth have a key role to play. On a daily basis, they receive about 700 times more energy from the sun than humankind currently consumes by burning fossil fuels. Deserts provide the best solar radiation conditions and the environmental impact on the Earth‘s biosphere of the solar plants installed is minimal. Clean power produced by concentrating solar thermal power plants located in the world’s deserts can also now be developed to mee any conceivable volume of demand and transmitted with low losses by High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) lines to more than 90% of the world‘s population. Combined with the many other forms of accessible renewable energy, deserts will enable us to phase out fossil fuels, and thereby prevent much of the destruction of our natural environment due to greenhouse gas emissions. Wide-scale implementation of the DESERTEC Concept requires countries with deserts, countries with high or unmet energy demands and countries with great technological know-how to work together for mutual benefit. This is an opportunity for the Mediterranean regions of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA) to establish a community for energy, water and climate security – similar to the Community of Coal and Steel established in Europe some 60 years ago – to ensure a prosperous and peaceful future. While this vision is a large and complex one involving the concerted efforts of many stakeholders, it must be remembered that an important precedent exists. 50 years ago, the Apollo Space Program was launched to make humanity‘s old dream of putting a man on the moon a reality. Today, the dream to restore balance between humans and their home planet requires the efforts of us all. With sufficient political will, EUMENA countries could now launch another high-tech program that would have greater implications for humanity. A proposed “EUMENA-DESERTEC” Program, putting deserts and technology into service for energy, water and climate security would be an important step towards the sustainable modernization and development of the world. In order to make the climate science, developmental and technological issues accessible to a wider global citizenry, this atlas describes the iholistic approach underlying DESERTEC. It highlights the potential of concentrated solar power harvested from the world’s deserts as one of the best strategies for ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability of our planet. It is my hope that the insights provided by of its authors’

expertise will both enhance and hasten policy decisions needed at the regional and bi-regional levels for realization of the DESERTEC vision.

His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan Former President of the International CLUB OF ROME and Co-Founder of the DESERTEC Foundation

Dear reader, What you’re holding is a book that will explain the most comprehensive and fascinating approaches in solving the energy problem and to stabilize the global climate – the DESERTEC Concept. For the first time a group of international independent experts describe the multifaceted aspects of this unique project. The DESERTEC Atlas is not a political platform or a binding code of practice, but rather an anthology of insight, which is designed to be “open” and flexible. To inform people about the basic idea behind the Concept and detail the breadth of issues associated with it, while at the same time provoking more participants into an engaged collaboration in the implementation of the DESERTEC Concept itself. There are two main things that distinguish the DESERTEC Concept from the many other proposals currently being discussed on the issues surrounding the global energy supply and of climate change. First, DESERTEC presents a concrete solution concept and shows how humanity can, with current technology, reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80% and limit global warning to pre-industrial levels by a maximum of 2°C through the application of renewable energies. Second, DESERTEC is an integrated approach. The concept includes, contrary to many other approaches, multi-sector problem solving, such as slowing climate change, creating energy security, producing sufficient quantities of drinking water for agriculture and the daily needs of people in arid regions, reducing conflicts over oil and water which would lead to a reduction in migration. However, the human race is still untrained in recognizing problems and issues of national borders or knowing how to resolve them. The Club of Rome has actually already identified these problems and solutions in their report “Limits to Growth”, published back in the early ‘70s. One of the core messages of that report is that if people continue their current behavior without any changes in how they treat their land and reproduce, by 2050, the environment will be so overburdened it would take the resources of three Earths to provide for the population. In due course, nature has received a lot “additives” over the past four decades. The consequences of exceeding load limits are now being felt everywhere, including the dramatic increase in greenhouse gases, desertification, depletion of forest resources, overuse of land and overfishing of the oceans, just to name a few. One of the observable threatening consequences is new military conflicts. When people can no longer live in their traditional settlement areas because of more frequent flooding or drought, they move to where they have a better chance of survival. This has resulted in a constantly increasing urban area and a greater strain on the living space of others, which has ultimately led to conflict. The task that lies before humanity is enormous. We must learn how use the Earth wisely in such an effective and efficient way, that by 2050 it can sustain the over 9 billion inhabitants that will be living at this time. A world in balance – that is the goal, which the Club of Rome, with its 30 national societies, their international society and its 1,400 worldwide members has dedicated itself to since its founding in Rome in 1968. In the early days, the big debate

was over sustainability – an issue that has actually become more relevant than ever. The German Association Club of Rome works to bring the world back in balance through funded partner projects, which include its commitment to the Global Marshall Plan Initiative, the Club of Rome schools, the student project Plant‐for-the‐Planet and its support for the work of the DESERTEC Foundation. But anyone can support the realization of the DESERTEC idea. Whether by choosing a conscientious electricity provider, by adopting various kinds of self-efficiency measures or by changing one’s own behavior, there are individual commits that can be made. The question is really not whether or not one or the other should be done, but rather that all reasonable strategies should be taken at the same time. And time is something we are running out of, if we are to reverse the effects of climate change. The same is true for establishing centralized or decentralized energy production facilities for renewable energy. Again, both should be done simultaneously. Only then will humanity have a real chance to make the necessary energy transition before it is too late. The DESERTEC Atlas provides answers to questions that have been asked time and again. How did the idea come about? What are the various energy production methods? How will our energy mix change? What climates are best suited for DESERTEC? Why and where will conflicts arise if nothing is done? Will countries become more dependent or independent on third parties? The on-going debate can also be tracked on the Internet at It’s time to roll up our sleeves! We have a big task to accomplish. Now is not the time to wait for someone else to make the first move – you take that first step! We need to work together with determination! So, dear reader, we hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor that we present to you today. We hope you learn something new and gain many new insights. And we hope you think of DESERTEC when making choices in your daily life, whether it’s deciding on an energy provider, going shopping, giving donations, talking to others or in the moment you just feel it’s time to make a difference.

Max Schön President, German Society and co-founder of the Club of Rome DESERTEC Foundation

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