The more than US$12 billion which the World Bank has invested in fossil fuels over the last six years would have been “better invested in desert power”, claims Desertec’s Foundation Director Dr. Thiemo Gropp.
According Dr. Gropp, if the fund — which was used to finance the construction of new fossil fuel power plants and the extraction of oil, gas and coal — had been invested in harnessing renewable energy sites where “the wind blows the hardest or the sun shines the fiercest” such as in the deserts of Asia, the Americas and Africa, the world would be a step ahead in climate protection.
The Desertec Foundation seeks to implement projects in sun-rich deserts across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa including through its Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii). However, its Dii has seen two members recently announce plans to pull out of the programme, namely Bosch and Siemens.
Dr. Gropp’s comments come after the World Bank earlier this week called on governments around the world to redirect the US$1 trillion typically spent every year on fossil fuel subsidies to developing alternative energy sources.
Although this has been welcomed by Desertec, Dr. Gropp highlights that renewable energy is a development issue. He notes that all renewable technologies will be important but emphasizes that CSP is a particularly attractive option. At present, around US$2-3 billion is being invested in global installed CSP capacity.
According to Dr. Gropp, CSP technology is currently at a stage where the US$12 billion would have a had greater impact compared with other more established renewable technologies such as wind and PV.
He said: “If used to help finance a series of pilot projects dotted around the deserts of the globe, the effect of this investment with regard to convincing the general public, politicians and industry would be fantastic. It would also accelerate the process of bringing costs down through economies of scale”.
Dr. Gropp added that thermal storage CSP “is the only renewable technology that can add significant amounts of power that can be delivered as and when it is needed thus complementing the further rollout of intermittent supply from other renewables in the future.”