Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Munich Re touts Sahara in solar energy push

http://www.munichre.com/en/homepage/images/484x596_pr_20090616.jpg

FRANKFURT, June 16 (Reuters) - German reinsurer Munich Re (MUVGn.DE), facing billions of euros in claims for damage caused by climate change in coming years, is seeking to drum up support for an ambitious plan to build solar parks in the Sahara desert.

The reinsurer wants backing from other leading European companies for a feasibility study on generating a significant proportion of Europe's power needs in northern Africa -- at a cost potentially running into hundreds of billions of euros.

The project is the brainchild the Club of Rome, an association of social leaders who aim to foster sustainable development best known for its 1972 book 'Limits to Growth'.

Munich Re has invited several companies, including Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Siemens (SIEGn.DE), E.ON (EONGn.DE) and RWE (RWEG.DE), to meet on July 13 to agree on a joint project, said a foundation organised by members of the Club of Rome.

"We have approached Munich Re to get industrial companies on board and Munich Re organised the meeting with the other companies," said a spokesman for the Desertec foundation, which is fostering the idea to generate solar power in Africa.

The 20 companies and Desertec aim to sign a memorandum of understanding to found the Desertec Industrial Initiative which would commission studies on possible projects, he said.

A first power station with a capacity of 2 gigawatts in Tunisia with power lines to Italy would take five years to build once it gets regulatory approval, the spokesman said.

A possible long-term project could be a 100 gigawatt solar thermal power station in northern Africa and the Middle East. It could be finalised by 2050 with power lines connecting it to central Europe and would cost an estimated 400 billion euros ($555.8 billion), he said. …

Munich Re touts Sahara in solar energy push

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