Desert solar initiative hit by relationship breakdown

3 July 2013

The non-profit Desertec Foundation has pulled out of the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) over "irresolvable disputes", calling into question the future of bold plans to supply Europe with power from large concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in north Africa.

Since 2009 the foundation, working with private industry consortium Dii, has planned to develop CSP power plants in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA).

Plans included the TuNur project in Tunisia, which aims to use CSP to produce 2GW of electricity for transmission to Europe to supply 700,000 homes.

Thiemo Gropp, director of the Desertec Foundation said: "It was always clear to us that our idea of producing electricity from the deserts on this earth was never an easy task and will always face extreme challenges.

The Desertec Foundation and Dii aimed to develop concentrating solar thermal power in suitable deserts in Europe and MENA (Credit: Desertec Foundation)

"The employees of Dii have contributed enormously to the global transition towards renewable energy. However, after many months filled with a lot of discussions we had to conclude that the Desertec Foundation needs to preserve its independence."

The Foundation said the action was a result of many irresolvable disputes over future strategies, obligations, communication – "and last but not least the managerial style of Dii’s top management."

It added that it "wants to avoid being dragged into the maelstrom of negative publicity about the management crisis and disorientation of the industrial consortium."

A Dii spokesperson said: "Dii of course respects that decision; we also believe that this development does not affect the realisation of desert power in EUMENA. In the past the foundation has had little impact on determining Dii’s objectives, strategy or activities."

The announcement made by the Foundation also stated that it is the sole owner of the brand name "Desertec" and guardian of the concept.

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