An Arab Spring for a Solar Summer?

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted June 7, 2011

Effects of the civil wars and demonstrations of the so-called “Arab Spring” have been seen around the globe.

And now we are even looking at the violence as it relates to advancements in the harvesting of solar energy.

The Desertec project, proposed back in 2009, aims to use energy from the powerful Saharan sun to power the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and even a portion of Europe.

Planned by the Desertec Foundation and Desertec Industrial Initiative (a union of industrial companies, many of them German), the project would cost an estimated $584 billion and would center on building solar plants in the Sahara.

Of course, the “Arab Spring” political turmoil seems to have put more than a hold on these plans.

Officials in charge of this project, however, aren’t sure if that’s the case.

The turbulence will without a doubt delay plans for the project, but that may be all.

The push for democracy may, in fact, strengthen the possibility of Desertec’s success in the long run.

Demonstrators pushing for democracy and propelling the overthrow of dictators could be the same people that will support solar energy plants.

Or so Desertec hopes.

Success for Desertec depends on the success of these demonstrators in establishing democracies, stabilizing their governments, and creating relative peace.

It’s also met with quite a few objections.

Some believe the plan is much too far-fetched, what with the expense and the technology required to follow through.

The wait for the “Arab Spring” to cool down is still a factor and stands as a barrier.

Some are uncertain the democracies actually will support this plan, as it would require European involvement in these independent governments, according to Speigel Online.

But others hope that the prospect of so much clean energy available to the MENA region will overpower reservations that might arise.

German energy expert Kristen Westphal believes, as she told Speigel Online, “Socioeconomic development and the development of democracy go hand-in-hand.”

According to her expertise, the beginning of this project will fuel democratic success, and the emergence of democracies will push the project ahead.

Another win for solar energy?

That’s all for now,


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