Desertec - Desert electricity as a solution to energy problems

Desertec Foundation

I just watched a video on YouTube about the "Desertec“ Foundation, which is pursuing an interesting approach to meeting global energy needs with renewable resources from the deserts of the world. This project has the potential to solve the energy problems of the future and to protect the environment in the long term. Due to the focus on desert areas, the foundation is also often associated with the term "desert stream".

With this post, I just want to give a rough overview of the foundation and draw some attention to it. At the same time, not only should the positive effects of the Desertec projects be mentioned, but also the possible negative effects should be pointed out.

Desertec's website - A vision for a sustainable future through the use of solar energy in desert regions.
Desertec's website - A vision for a sustainable future through the use of solar energy in desert regions.

The vision of the Desertec Foundation

Desertec is a foundation that aims to use desert power as a solution to the global energy problems. It is based on the idea of ​​building solar power plants in desert areas in order to use the enormous solar energy of these regions.

However, Desertec does not want to build the solar parks itself, but rather contribute to the progress of these projects.

Here are some facts about the foundation and the desert power projects:

  • Founded in 2009 by a group of European companies and institutions
  • The aim is to cover around 2050% of Europe's electricity needs from renewable energy sources in North Africa and the Middle East by 15
  • Use of photovoltaic and solar thermal power plants to generate electricity
  • Integration into a European and North African power grid
  • Fun fact: 250 x 250 km of solar cells could cover the world's electricity needs
The development of costs and the spread of technologies for using renewable energies are basically going in the right direction (source: Desertec).
The development of costs and the spread of technologies for using renewable energies are basically going in the right direction (source: Desertec).

On the Desertec website itself, the foundation describes itself as follows:

The DESERTEC Foundation is a global civil society initiative with the aim of shaping a sustainable future. It was established in 2009 as a non-profit foundation that emerged from a network of scientists, politicians and economists from across the Mediterranean who together developed the DESERTEC concept.

We are working on the rapid global implementation of the DESERTEC concept, a comprehensive solution that combats global warming, ensures reliable energy supply and promotes development and security. The DESERTEC Foundation team consists of people who believe that another world is possible. To turn the vision into reality, each team member works pro bono* to support the mission.

  • We raise awareness of the advantages of DESERTEC and the energy potential of desert regions
  • We promote the creation of the political and economic frameworks necessary for a global transition to renewable energy
  • We support knowledge transfer and scientific collaboration
  • Promotion of exchanges and cooperation with the private sector

* Pro bono is a Latin expression meaning "for the common good" or "voluntarily and gratuitously".

Location: Atacama Desert, Chile; peak power: 210 MW; over 16 hours heat retention
Location: Atacama Desert, Chile; peak power: 210 MW; more than 16 hours of heat storage (photo: Desertec).

Why Desert Power?

The use of desert power offers numerous advantages for the environment and the global energy supply. Some of these advantages are:

  • High solar radiation in desert areas enables efficient energy production
  • Reducing dependency on fossil fuels and related emissions
  • Promoting sustainable development in North Africa and the Middle East
  • Potential for job creation and economic growth

challenges and criticisms

Despite the many advantages, there are also some challenges and points of criticism that are discussed in the context of the Desertec project. Here are some criticisms of the company highlighted by various sources:

  1. Colonial touches:
    Some critics see Desertec as a colonial-era project in which resources from less developed regions, such as North Africa, are to be used to meet the energy needs of industrialized regions, such as Europe.
  2. Underestimation of the energy transition:
    Some experts are convinced that Desertec underestimated the impact of the German energy transition, which fundamentally changed energy policy and infrastructure in Europe.
  3. Internal conflicts:
    There were long-standing conflicts between the companies and organizations involved, which may have contributed to the escalation and failure of the project.
  4. Dependence on politically unstable regions:
    Another point of criticism is the dependence on politically unstable regions in North Africa and the Middle East for Europe's energy supply, which could lead to uncertainties and risks in the long term.
  5. Environmental Impact:
    Although the project targets renewable energy, there are concerns about the environmental impact that could result from building solar and wind power plants in ecologically sensitive desert areas.
  6. High investment costs:
    The construction of solar power plants and infrastructure requires enormous financial investments.
  7. Political and economic instability in some destination countries:
    The uncertainty and unpredictability of political decisions and economic developments can have a negative impact on investments, business relationships and the successful implementation of projects like Desertec.
  8. Environmental impacts from the construction of solar power plants and power lines:
    There may be negative effects on ecosystems, habitats and animal species caused by the construction and operation of these facilities, including altering landscapes, soil sealing and possible disturbance to local animal populations.
  9. Skepticism about the feasibility and efficiency of the project:
    Some experts and critics have raised concerns about the technical implementation, the cost-benefit analysis, and the actual energy and environmental impact of the project. Some assume that the desired goals may not be achieved or that there are more efficient alternatives.

Despite the points of criticism, there are many points that speak in favor of supporting the Desertec Foundation and the promotion of mega-projects in the solar thermal and photovoltaic sector will certainly continue to be a recommendable thing.

Location: Benban, Egypt; Peak power: 1650 MW; Largest solar park in Egypt (Photo:
Location: Benban, Egypt; Peak power: 1650 MW; Largest solar park in Egypt (Photo:


The Desertec Foundation offers a visionary solution to the global energy problems and has the potential to make a significant contribution to the transition to renewable energy. While there are some challenges and criticisms, it is important to continue pursuing innovative approaches like Desertec to achieve a more sustainable energy future. I hope that I was able to give you a little insight into the work and projects of the foundation.

If you want to know more about the current status of the Desertec projects and about the foundation itself, I can tell you the video here from Breaking Lab recommend:

Did you like the article and did the instructions on the blog help you? Then I would be happy if you the blog via a Steady Membership would support.

5 comments on “Desertec – desert power as a solution to energy problems”

  1. The whole thing is of course very interesting. But I wouldn't call it visionary. Deserts lend themselves to energy production. Its obvious. The problem is the dependency on other countries. In my opinion, the cause for Europe has already failed. Hopefully one will not be so stupid and after the dependency on oil and gas go straight into the next dependency. However, such projects should be promoted so that the African states can supply themselves with energy. Europe must look for other solutions.

    1. Hi Timewalkers! I think it will be very difficult with the energy requirement to do everything alone without dependencies. Maybe once they get nuclear fusion sorted out. But that doesn't look like the case for the next 5 years.

  2. Hi Jens,
    no question, it won't be easy for Europe. Unfortunately, the regions where you can generate electricity in the desert are politically rather unstable and unreliable. It is not for nothing that some refugees come to us from Africa. If we were to get electricity from there, we could also be blackmailed. Not good conditions.
    Even as a child, I wondered why people became so dependent on natural gas, for example. In the meantime we are also getting the reward for this naivety. I think the only countries with which you can work together in a reasonably trusting manner are the member states of the EU and NATO, at least to some extent.


    1. Hopefully the thing about natural gas showed that you shouldn't become too dependent on one source. In any case, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Europe will be set up a little more "fail-safe" in the future. 😊

Post a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with * marked

In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.