02 June 2012

Press release

New Chilean Director to Strengthen Management Team of the DESERTEC Foundation

To complement the recent article in the "Welt am Sonntag" we also asked our new director from Chile, Dr. Ignacio Campino, some questions. The following picture (3 MB) of Dr. Campino and the interview are freely available for use by journalists:



Mr. Campino, you recently retired from your position as Head of Sustainability and Climate Protection at Deutsche Telekom. What is it about DESERTEC that has attracted you to work from August for the foundation? Didn’t you want to enjoy your retirement?

Campino: First of all, just because somebody reaches a certain age that’s no reason to stop working! My professional life until now has focused on resource efficiency and the sustainable use of natural resources. When I let people know a year ago that I would leave Deutsche Telekom this year different colleagues and organizations have contacted me to ask if I would be prepared to continue working in another capacity which was in fact what I had planned to do. When I heard that the DESERTEC Foundation was looking for another director, I applied for the job and the board appointed me. I am very much looking forward to this new challenge.

I have followed the activities of the DESERTEC Foundation from the beginning. When I heard about the founding of the organization in 2009, I was really excited. As a Chilean and a lover of the Atacama Desert, I could immediately imagine using the desert sun to generate power. And I am very happy to be able to contribute to spreading this idea in the desert regions of the Earth.


What experience are you bringing with you and how can you add to the work of the DESERTEC Foundation?

Campino: As an employee of Deutsche Telekom I have for the last 17 years been involved in the United Nations process to reach a global agreement on the reduction of CO2 emissions. I have taken part in almost all of the United Nations climate conferences and realized that, alongside an international commitment to a binding agreement, concrete solutions for the decarbonization of the world’s energy supply must be developed and deployed. In those years I met and worked with many experts and decision-makers that I now want to use this network for DESERTEC.

I understand very well what the obstacles are and because of this I am fully convinced that concrete solutions, like the one proposed by DESERTEC, can help to break this deadlock.


How do you see the future for the DESERTEC Foundation and, as part of the management team, what will your priorities be?

Campino: Climate change mitigation is a global challenge and no country can solve it alone. However, the premise of the last two decades of UN climate conferences that we must reach worldwide consensus before we can begin to comprehensively address the climate crisis is leading us to a dangerous dead end. The world now emits more CO2 than ever before because no international conference has been able to make true progress and the implementation of the necessary measures are always delayed. At the same time, we have enough socio-economic and security policy arguments to convince people in key regions of the world to act now and act decisively!

The DESERTEC Concept is based on technologies that are available today and offers a solution that can be applied in many regions of the world. The DESERTEC Foundation already has a network of coordinators in twelve different countries in order to promote the implementation of its ideas. Recently, the foundation’s coordinator in Japan, helped us to reach an agreement for a cooperation with the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) in Tokyo. Using the model of DESERTEC, they will advance the construction of an “Asian Super Grid” that will enable access to the best sites for renewable energies in East Asia and the transport of their clean power to the centers of demand. As a director alongside my colleague, Dr. Thiemo Gropp, I will follow the course already set by him and continue to promote the spread of the DESERTEC Concept across the world. As I was born in Chile, I am particularly focused on South America. I want to promote the idea of desert power there and help to build a South American DESERTEC initiative.

First of all I have to stress that DESERTEC’s ideas for using the energy of the sun are gaining traction. For the management team it is now important to be more active in those regions where the DESERTEC Foundation can make a significant contribution to establishing the frameworks necessary for is implementation.


What role can South America play in protecting the climate and the worldwide transition to renewable energy and how can the DESERTEC Foundation support this?

Campino: The economies of many South American countries are booming, the population is growing and the people rightfully want to enjoy a higher standard of living. This demands a sufficient energy supply. DESERTEC offers the possibility to slake this thirst for energy whilst avoiding CO2 emissions.

These countries do not need to tread the path of the old industrialized nations. They have the possibility to make a quantum leap and to decide to use new technologies that after their successful introduction they can also market themselves. You only need to look at the Atacama Desert, to realize there are plenty of regions in South America with abundant sources of renewable energy. It will, however, take a lot of work in many places to convince the people that renewables are a good solution. At the moment, they are no widely used in South America. This is not only because of a skeptical attitude to new technologies but also the local framework conditions.

DESERTEC isn’t only about environmentally friendly energy but also the possibility for countries to develop new jobs and industries. I can very easily imagine that out of the process of building solar power plants schools for the training of younger people in the construction and installation of smaller solar power plants for private households could also emerge. You could also think about the desalination of sea water. The eyes of the world will naturally be on South America at the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and this could bring new opportunities for climate-friendly energy sources.

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