MUNICH Nov 5 Chinese power company State Grid
Corp (SGCC) is interested in joining the Desertec
project aimed at expanding the use of renewable energy in Europe
and North Africa, a spokesman for Desertec said on Monday.
The Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported earlier
that SGCC was interested in joining the project, without giving
Desertec, a consortium set up in 2009, envisages Europe
importing up to a fifth of its electricity from solar and wind
parks in North Africa and the Middle East by 2050.
Spread over 6,500 square miles - more than half the size of
Belgium - the project's planned delivery of 1,064 terawatt hours
(TWh) would be almost enough energy to power the whole of
Germany for two years.
With a projected budget of 400 billion euros ($514 billion),
the plan has been dismissed as too expensive, too risky and too
big. The upheaval of the Arab Spring - the revolutionary wave of
popular protests and uprisings that began first in Tunisia in
late 2010 - has added to the doubts.
Business leaders say the economics are not compelling yet,
but some say technological advances and judicious use of EU
money could change that.
Among others, shareholders of the so-called Desertec
Industrial Initiative (DII) include German reinsurer Munich RE
, utilities E.ON and RWE as well
as Deutsche Bank.
German industrial conglomerate Siemens announced last month
it was pulling the plug on its loss-making solar business as
part of a drive to improve profitability.
Under its plans to quit solar, Siemens - which is still
described as a shareholder on DII's website - is exiting the
($1 = 0.7785 euros)
(Reporting by Jens Hack; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing
by Mark Potter)