Desertec adds new power grid partner

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(Dii) has acquired its 18th new partner.

It has added the Italian national grid operater

to the expanding international group that is promoting the large-scale development of renewable energy in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, with a view to developing "green" electricity exports to Europe.

 "We are very pleased to be part of the Desertec project", Flavio Cattaneo, the CEO of Terna, said yesterday in a statement. "The mission and goals of the initiative are fully shared and supported by Terna."

The significance of the development is that Terna is  specialised in the increasingly complex business of electricity transmission. It is the second such company to join Desertec. The first was Red Electrica de Espana, the Spanish national grid operator. 

Developing a sophisticated grid to connect and manage power supplies from scores of widely dispersed wind and solar plants will be a critical to the success of the €400 billion (Dh2.01 trillion) Desertec project, which is aiming to develop the world's biggest network of renewable-energy power plants. 

The wind does not blow on demand, and even the availability of desert sunshine is unpredictable, as it is subject to weather events such as sand storms. That means Desertec 's grid will need to be exceedingly "smart" for electricity consumers in Europe to be able to rely on it to meet a portion of their fluctuating power needs.

"Given its core expertise as a national grid operator, Terna can contribute to our joint venture with valuable knowledge about the integration of renewable energy into electric grids," said Paul van Son, the CEO of the Dii.

"Apart from creating a framework for power generation in desert regions, power transmissions from North Africa to the European markets is another important element for Desertec," he explained.

"Italy is a key country for us due to its geographical location and its proximity to Tunisia," Mr van Son added.

Dii also confirmed on Thursday that STEG Renouvelables, a subsidiary of the Tunisian state utility company STEG, had joined Desertec.

That brings to three the number of North African companies among Dii's shareholders, as The Grid recently reported here.

Pic courtesy of Terna