"Europe's Saharan Power Plan: Miracle Or Mirage?"

"RABAT - A 400 billion euro ($774 billion) plan to power Europe with Sahara sunlight is gaining momentum, even as critics see high risks in a large corporate project using young technology in north African countries with weak rule of law.

Desertec, as the initiative is called, would be the world's most ambitious solar power project. Fields of mirrors in the desert would gather solar rays to boil water, turning turbines to electrify a new carbon-free network linking Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Its supporters, a dozen finance and industrial firms mostly from Germany, say it will keep Europe at the forefront of the fight against climate change and help North African and European economies to grow within greenhouse gas emission limits.

Others warn of numerous pitfalls, including Maghreb politics, Saharan sandstorms and the risk to desert populations if their water is diverted to clean dust off solar mirrors."

Erik Kirschbaum, Christoph Steitz, Jonathan Gould, and Hamid Ould Ahmed report for Reuters August 27, 2009.

Source: Reuters, 08/28/2009