DESERTEC Foundation Begins Work on Asian Super Grid for Renewable Energy

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The DESERTEC Concept is a development by a network of scientists, politicians, and economists from around the Mediterranean.  The sole goal is to provide climate protection, energy security and development by generating sustainable power from the sites where renewable energy sources are most abundant.

Energy is available in abundance and we have the technology to use it

All kinds of renewables are being explored through the DESERTEC Concept, but the sun-rich deserts of the world have a special role to play: within  time span of six hours, deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within one year.  Thanks to heat storage tanks, concentrating solar-thermal power plants in the world’s deserts can supply electricity on demand day and night.  This means they are an ideal complement to fluctuating energy sources such as wind and photovoltaic power.  Thus, increasing the percentage of variable energy sources used in the planet’s electricity mix.

What DESERTEC does is to combine climate protection and energy security with economic development and security policy.  DESERTEC is a comprehensive solution which not only aims to cover increasing energy needs, but also reduces carbon emissions before global warming gets further out of control.  Alongside climate protection and by ensuring the energy supply, it has multiple benefits in terms of development and security – i.e. providing needed seawater desalination.

In March of 2012, one year after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the DESERTEC Foundation and the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) began cooperation to promote an Asian Super Grid necessary for the expansion of renewable energy in Asia.  The aim is to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy to provide secure and sustainable alternatives to fossil and nuclear energies.  At the signing of the memorandum of understanding in Tokyo, the two non-profits announced that they will exchange knowledge and know-how to coordinate their work together in developing suitable framework conditions for the deployment of renewables and to establish transnational cooperation in Greater East Asia.

The Asian Super Grid initiative will facilitate an electricity system based fully on renewable energy in Asia.  This initiative envisions the interconnection of the national grids of Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia, and Russia with low-loss High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines.  These transmission lines will enable the delivery of electricity from the region’s most abundant renewable energy sources to its centers of demand.  It also simultaneously balances out the peaks and troughs of fluctuating renewable energy sources over a wider area.

The DESERTEC Foundation sees the foundation of this Asian Super Grid as a crucial step toward the full implementation of its DESERTEC Concept in Greater East Asia.  It has already conducted a feasibility study on potential grid corridors to make the best use of the region’s desert sun.

Dr. Thiemo Gropp, Director of the DESERTEC Foundation, states that “The efficient use of the practically inexhaustible energy of the East Asian desert sun in combination with the expansion of renewable energies can sustainably improve living conditions for current and future generations in the region.  It also offers Asian countries the chance to take a leading role in the fight against climate change by harnessing the most abundant of all energy sources on earth.”

Dr. Tomas Kaberger, JREF Executive Board Chair, says that: “Technologies to harness solar and wind energy have improved dramatically in the last few years.  Combined with modern power transmission technologies, renewable energy can support the long-term economic prosperity of the region.  Establishing an Asian Super Grid will be challenging and requires a high-level of international collaboration but its benefits make it worth the effort.  We are happy to be able to benefit from the experience of DESERTEC in this undertaking.”

DESERTEC’s mission is the worldwide implementation of the DESERTEC Concept – a solution to provide climate protection, energy security and development by generating sustainable power from the sites where renewable sources of energy are at their most abundant.

In Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the non-profit foundation has years of experience in informing society and political decision-makers about the environmental, social and economic benefits of the transition to renewables.  Through projects in Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia and the entire DESERTEC University Network, it supports knowledge transfer and educational cooperation.  By fostering exchange and cooperation with the private sector, it has created a global community of active supporters.

The Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) was founded in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident to prevent further such events from happening again.  Working together with DESERTEC, it is advancing its mission to efficiently accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in order to reduce costs and boost Japan’s economic development.


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