Desertec not Outdated

I just heard about Mr. Abdelmadjid Attar, since the North Africa Post reported about his views on the Desertec project.

He is quoted like this: “The Desertec project is outdated. Let’s forget it,”

Being of the opinion that the world is in urgent need of massive solar projects, including in the North African deserts, I disagree.

So I was interested in finding out who Mr. Attar is. Turns out that he is a geologist who has spent most of his career looking for oil and gas in the fossil fuel industry. He recently was appointed to the post of Algerian energy minister, which means that he will also lead OPEC meetings coming up, since it is Algeria’s turn at the bat there.

Another background article explains that Algeria has substantial oil and gas resources and is interested in striking up new deals with international oil companies on developing them.

With such ties to the fossil fuel industry, it makes sense that Minister Attar would play down solar potential. But is he right? Is the Desertec idea outdated?

Actually the reverse is true. Projects like Desertec make much more sense now than ten years ago.

For one, prices for solar energy are way down now compared to then.

Next, action on global warming is much more urgent than ten years ago. One of the international oil companies Minister Attar wants to invite recently announced their intent to massively increase their renewable investments for exactly this reason.

So the outdated model is that of digging out ever more oil and gas. The outdated model is to rely on fossil fuel for income. The outdated model is business as usual.

Fossil fuel is on its way out. OPEC should lead the change by agreeing on a long-term reliable world wide production schedule with the quota distributed over a blockchain-based market mechanism.

Forget about new fossil fuel exploration. That way of thinking is outdated, not Desertec.

For anyone interested in what the Desertec project is up to lately, I recommend looking at their website. Turns out that they agree with the idea that the original concepts have evolved. The latest development is the MENA hydrogen alliance, which aims at adding green molecules to green electrons.

Published by kflenz

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

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