EU’s push for green hydrogen scale-up fuels talk of “Desertec reloaded” – media
The Desertec project - which caused a hype in the German solar power industry around 2010 but was later largely abandoned due to unclear political and economic perspectives - is being resurrected in a slightly altered form as a result of Europe’s push for greater energy independence from Russia, Oliver Stock writes for news website Focus Online. This time, the idea pushed by the EU would not be to transmit electricity generated with large solar plants in the Sahara desert to Europe, but to produce green hydrogen in northern Africa and Spain. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, head of lobby group Hydrogen Europe, said the EU’s aim to create a joint European renewable power and hydrogen network had been “boosted” by Russia’s war on Ukraine. “Unofficial talk is about a kind of ‘Desertec reloaded’ project aiming at new hydrogen world order,” Stock writes. The EU would have to invest about 80 billion euros in infrastructure to replace half of its Russian gas imports with roughly 20 million tonnes of hydrogen, which could be financed through rising prices on carbon emissions, he writes.
The solar-power-from-the-desert project of Siemens, RWE and Deutsche Bank was abandoned in 2015 due to political risk in North Africa and the fact that solar power production in Europe had expanded rapidly in recent years. Africa has been a focus region for Germany's efforts to install a global network for supplying green hydrogen that can replace fossil fuels in sectors that are otherwise difficult to decarbonise.