European Grid 10 Year Development Plan

Dii (Desertec industrial initiative) discusses the latest 10 year plan for developing the European electricity grid of 2014.

They note that some of the projects for connecting Europe to Northern Africa that were included in the last 2012 plan have been dropped. The latest edition aims for one (in numbers 1) interconnection of 0.6 GW, to be ready by 2030.

And they call on ENTSO-E, the European network of transmission system operators for electricity, to reverse these steps in the wrong direction.

They note correctly that Northern Africa has better solar and wind resources than Europe and that therefore it makes even more sense to produce solar electricity there than in Germany.

I agree with that.

And the best way to get those power lines built: Just go ahead and build the capacity in Northern Africa anyway. There is a domestic market for the first couple of decades. Proceed to build the power lines once there is a clear price advantage that makes it profitable to have them.

And while the power lines are not in place, there is always the options of using quicklime for transporting solar energy from Africa to Europe, of using the energy right in the desert to suck up CO2, or to make some silicon.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

2 thoughts on “European Grid 10 Year Development Plan

  1. KF, I have become more cautious in comparing CSP to PV, partly because of your critique (CSP plus storage is closer to PV plus storage, and the former is slightly more favorable in that comparison). But this sentence seems to be an oversimplification: “it makes even more sense to produce solar electricity there than in Germany.”

    At the level of an individual solar cell or panel, that is undoubtedly true. That is the microeconomic analysis. The macroeconomic one is that, at the level of trying to get electrons from Morocco through Spain and France to Germany, you face certain political obstacles: the willingness of the Spanish and French to fill up their landscapes with power lines so the Germans can save a penny, and the fact that Moroccan power consumption roughly doubled over the past 10 years, so they need this power themselves.

    I am all for CSP, wind, and PV in North Africa. For the northern Africans. And if they have any excess they want to sell to us, I’m sure we will be eager to buy it.


  2. I don’t think I disagree much, at least for the first couple of decades. Of course it makes more sense to displace fossil fuel in Northern Africa first and proceed to sell to Europe later.

    It is true that there will always be local resistance to building power lines. It is also true that having more of them is useful for balancing a grid based on renewables. The wind blows and the sun shines always somewhere. Large scale grids can balance out local weather variations.


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