The DESERTEC Concept

The DESERTEC Concept: Clean Power from Deserts
Within 6 hours the world's deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year. This means that sufficient clean power can be generated from the world's deserts to supply mankind with enough electricity on a sustainable basis. The DESERTEC Concept promotes the large-scale production of solar and wind power in the desert regions of the world, combined with a smart mix of photovoltaics, hydropower, biomass and geothermal energy.


The Technologies are available and already in commercial use
The DESERTEC Concept integrates all types of renewable energy. The installed capacity of wind energy and photovoltaics is already growing strongly. Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (CSP) is however an important technology in the DESERTEC Concept because it can deliver dispatchable power that compensates for the fluctuations of wind energy and photovoltaics.


The technologies for the production and long-distance transmission of clean power from deserts are available and already in commercial use, for example in Southern Spain and in the USA.


Parabolic trough



Fresnel collector



Solar tower

CSP works as follows: Solar energy is concentrated by means of mirrors to heat water. The resulting steam is used to drive conventional turbines for power generation. As heat can be easily stored with low losses, CSP plants are capable of supplying energy on demand - even after sunset. A high share of such dispatchable clean power in the energy mix stabilizes the electricity grid and therefore allows for a greater use of other fluctuating sources such as photovoltaics and wind.


Clean power from deserts for 90% of the world's population

Clean power from remote deserts can be transmitted up to 3,000 kilometers to the consumption centres, using High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) lines. 90% of the world's population lives within a maximum distance of 3,000 km to deserts. With around 2-3% per 1,000 kilometres, the transmission losses are fairly low. China especially is already experienced in the utilization of HVDC transmission lines which can be seen at the 1418 km HVDC line connecting Yunnan and Guangdong.


Main principles of the DESERTEC Concept
The DESERTEC Concept integrates all renewable energies in a trans-national supergrid

  • Using a smart mix of the most efficient and abundant sources of renewable energy
    • Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (CSP) in desert regions
    • Wind power in coastal areas
    • Hydro power in mountainous regions
    • Photovoltaics in sunny areas
    • Biomass and Geothermal power where geographic conditions are favorable