Dii GmbH, the industrial consortium set up by the Desertec Foundation to realize its vision of harvesting the renewable potential of the world’s deserts, has responded to criticism from the foundation in the wake of last week’s acrimonious split.
The foundation told pv magazine it was separating from Dii after members learned of an apparent change in strategy from an EU news website.
A foundation press announcement cited ‘irresolvable differences’ between the two organizations over strategy, communication, obligations and the management style of Dii’s top officials.
But Klaus Schmidtke, Dii’s head of communications, told pv magazine the dispute over a change in strategy was merely a misunderstanding on the foundation‘s part.
And he said the criticism of Dii’s communication was ironic because Dii board members first knew of the foundation‘s decision by reading it on the website of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper 40 minutes before receiving a communication from Desertec.
"They complained about an article from a magazine in Brussels and if you look at the quotes there’s nothing about altering strategy," said Schmidtke. "The article was about when the export of energy to Europe could start. Dii expects it could start after 2020, from our modelling. There could be 20 TWh transferred from south to north in 2020 and by 2050 there could be up to 750 TWh so from those figures you can see exporting energy to Europe is very important to us but for now it is about adapting to recent developments.
"For instance Morocco could have the first project to export energy to Europe but we need a declaration of intent between some European countries and Morocco to export energy and that hasn’t happened.
Impractical for Spain to import clean energy
"Also the situation in Spain is such that it is difficult for Spain to import renewable energy. Spain has so much renewables capacity it is already exporting energy so that, on top of the current financial crisis, makes it impractical to talk about Spain importing renewable energy from Morocco. We didn’t change strategy but circumstances have changed."
In a press statement in the wake of the Foundation’s announcement, Schmidtke said: "…we also believe that this development does not affect the realization of desert power in EUMENA (the EU, Middle East and north Africa region). In the past the foundation has had little impact on determining Dii’s objectives, strategy or activities."
Schmidtke explained: "There was almost no input from the Desertec Foundation into our recent study Desert Power 2050." He added sun and wind power is primarily for the north Africa and Middle East region for now with an ‘eventual’ plan to export energy to Europe.
Schmidtke said he expects the Algerian government to announce plans for a number of 1 GW projects in the next few weeks with plans for much more in the pipeline, after help from Dii.
"We created a business plan for a 150 MW plant in Morocco to export energy to Europe," added Schmidtke, "and we tried to encourage projects in Tunisia where the government will then take them to tender."