Mission reboot and managerial shakeup for beleagured Desertec consortium

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Dii, the industrial body behind ambitious plans to build massive solar plants in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, has vowed to press on despite losing the backing of a key partner.

Alongside a renewed mission statement, the body has revealed a new management structure, with its managing director Aglaia Wieland set to leave the company after three years.

Last week the Desertec Foundation, the body behind the eponymous plan, announced it was withdrawing its backing for Dii following acrimonious disagreements over management and strategy.

Although Dii was set up to deliver the Desertec vision, it was the foundation that initially conceived the concept and gave it its name. There had been question marks over whether Dii, a consortium of industry heavy hitters, would be able to carry on with its plans without the foundation’s backing.

But in its first official statement since the split, Dii said its shareholders had agreed to “reinvigorate” the organisation’s mission by “revalidating” its strategy.

This means Dii will continue working towards its stated aim of building a renewable energy market connecting North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, with the latter benefiting from desert solar and wind power transmitted through new grid interconnections.

Under its action plan published last month, Dii said renewables could account for 55% of the energy mix in the three regions by 2030.

However, the organisational reboot of Dii will be at the expense of managing director Aglaia Wieland, who will leave the consortium.

Wieland was brought in to Dii three years ago as strategy director and last year was appointed managing director alongside chief executive Paul van Son, but the two had reportedly clashed. Dii said the body would fall under the “single leadership” of van Son following Wieland's departure.

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