From Vision to Reality

2003 – 2007: Development of the DESERTEC Concept

The DESERTEC Concept was developed by an international network of politicians, academics and economists. From this Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (short: TREC) network later emerged the DESERTEC Foundation. The physicist Dr. Gerhard Knies and HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, the then President of the Club of Rome, were the driving forces behind the formation and development of the network.
The research institutes for renewable sources of the governments of Morocco (CDER), Algeria (NEAL), Libya (CSES), Egypt (NREA), Jordan (NERC) and Yemen (Universities of Sana'a and Aden) as well as the German Aerospace Center (DLR) made significant contributions towards the development of the DESERTEC Concept. The basic studies relating to DESERTEC were led by DLR scientist Dr. Franz Trieb. The studies were financed by the German Ministry of the Environment (BMU), which at the time was led by Federal Ministers Jürgen Trittin and, later on, Sigmar Gabriel.

PDF: TREC founding paper

2007: Presentation of the WhiteBook for DESERTEC in EU-MENA
The results of the DESERTEC studies as well as proposals for action regarding the implementation of DESERTEC in the EU-MENA region (Europe, Middle East and North Africa) were summarized in a WhiteBook, which was presented in the European Parliament by Prince El Hassan bin Talal. Subsequently, the then President of the European Parliament, Prof. Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, repeatedly expressed his support for DESERTEC in public, including in his function as President of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA).

PDF: Summary of the studies (Excerpt from the WhiteBook)

PDF: Complete WhiteBook (revised version of 2008)



2008: Launch of the Solar Plan of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)
The drafting of a first version of the Mediterranean Solar Plan of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) was the result of talks with the French embassy and representatives from French ministries. The aim of the Mediterranean Solar Plan is the development of renewable energy projects with a total of 20 gigawatts by the year 2020.



2009: Establishment of the DESERTEC Foundation
The DESERTEC Foundation was founded on 20 January 2009 as a non-profit foundation with the aim of promoting the implementation of the global DESERTEC Concept "Clean Power from Deserts" all over the world. Founding members of the DESERTEC Foundation are the German Association of the Club of Rome, members of the network of scientists TREC as well as committed private supporters and long-time promoters of the DESERTEC idea.



2009 – 2014: Industry underlines economic efficiency and feasibility of the DESERTEC Vision

After the DESERTEC Foundation had been founded, the German industry follows the vision and founds the Dii GmbH which was initially designed for three years with the aim to examine the realization of the vision from an industry perspective. Already in 2012, the industry emphasized the clear benefits of an electricity network of the EUMENA region in its report “Desert Power 2050”. In 2013, it confirms the economic attractiveness as well as the realizability with the report “Getting Started”. Already today, the technical and energy efficient preconditions to generate electricity from renewable energy sources existed and the transport within the MENA region as well as between EU-MENA was already today economically attractive. Thus, large CSP, wind and PV plants could generate electricity at much lower cost than plants that are driven by oil. From an energy political point of view, the Mediterranean region was to be understood as a centre in place of a border in the long term. Clear recommendations describe how the expansion of renewable energies in the whole MENA region could be made possible from the point of view of the industry. After having completed its mission, the Dii GmbH will be run by three companies as a consulting company from 2015 on.



2010: Foundation of the industrial initiative Transgreen/Medgrid
Transgreen was founded in July 2010 within the framework of the Mediterranean Solar Plan of the Union for the Mediterranean. This industrial initiative is aimed at promoting the construction of power transmission lines in the Mediterranean region.



2010: Foundation of the DESERTEC University Network

In 2010, the DESERTEC Foundation launched the DESERTEC University Network as a platform for scientific and academic collaboration. It is committed to developing know-how and implementing study programs related to renewable energies. Besides the DESERTEC Foundation, the founding members are 18 universities and research facilities from the MENA region. Further universities from Europe have subsequently joined the network.



2011, 2012, 2013: Projects in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt

The first project is called WEREEMa and is funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Under the leadership of the Investitionsbank Schleswig-Holstein, the DESERTEC Foundation and partners from Morocco and Germany are working together to improve the framework conditions for the rapid development of wind and other renewable energies in Morocco. This will be achieved through building capacity in education and research, network studies, wind measurements, pilot projects and economic cooperation.

The second project, RE-Generation MENA, is funded by the German Foreign Office. The objective is to focus on a greater involvement of students in Egypt and Tunisia in the EU-MENA renewable energy sector. It aims to equip them with the skills to contribute fully to the democratic process by demanding the necessary conditions for the expansion of renewable energies in Egypt and Tunisia.

The DESERTEC-Criteria were developed to ensure that large-scale solar projects in desert regions are implemented in an environmentally and socially responsible way. They consider in particular economic viability, security of supply and social and environmental impacts of these projects. The DESERTEC-Criteria will continue to be developed on the basis of experience and through extensive dialogue with all stakeholders within the project DESERTEC-Dialogue, a project supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.