Mediterranean Union will feature flagship initiatives such as solar energy development in sunny North Africa

The day before the French national day, which was celebrated with an impressive military parade in Paris today, the heads of state of 43 countries founded the Union for the Mediterranean in Paris. Sarkozy has a vision of a new era of cooperation between the EU and most nations around the Mediterranean sea.  An ambitious attempt to deepen economic ties and to launch numerous projects to the benefit of both, the wealthy EU countries as well as the North African and Asian countries abutting the Mediterranean which are differing even more in any respect than the 27 nations forming the European Union.

The Union for the Mediterranean should bring peace and stability to the region, encourage businesses to expand and invest across the Mediterranean and help to solve the problems concerning the northern and the southern states. A top-priority issue is the refugee influx at the coasts of Portugal, Spain and Italy. The number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe is increasing sharply and the number of those who don’t survive the trip has risen to several thousands a year. Obviously, the EU hopes to solve this problem by already stopping them in North African countries. Therefore, Europe could invest billions of euros to develop camps and create jobs in North African countries such as Morocco to keep them from crossing the sea and reaching out to Europe. Another objective is to make peace in the Middle East. Sarkozy welcomed Syria’s President who was isolated for a long time as Syria is suspected to sponsor terrorism and provoking conflicts in the region and announced that Lebanon and Syria would send ambassadors to each other despite their tensions as Syria has never fully accepted the sovereignty of Lebanon. Furthermore, Sarkozy hopes that with the joint efforts of the Union’s members, a solution for the decades-old conflict between Israel and Palestine could be reached. The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: “We are closer than ever to a possible (peace) agreement today” with the Palestinians. And he also hopes to establish contact between Israel and its enemy Syria.  And Syria itself asked France to contribute efforts to a peace deal between Syria and Israel. Besides, Europe hopes that Syria could influence Iran not to provoke further conflicts. Next to conflict-solving, the Union is aimed at improving the infrastructure of the North African members. Cleaning up the Mediterranean is also an objective. And most important, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Egypt have huge potential in terms of the development of solar energy. The leaders agreed on a north African solar power plan. Sun farms should be built on a grand scale across the Sahara and use the sun which provides more energy to us than we could ever use for energy. The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the region had the potential to become “a global hub for low-carbon solutions”. Solar power in general has huge potential and in my opinion, is the #1 renewable energy and the only one that could be used on a grand scale to provide electricity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Germany has taken the lead in promoting solar energy as renewable energies are subsidized by a surcharge on the electricity bill. However, solar energy will never be cost-effective in Germany as there’s simply not enough sunshine. Instead of pouring houge amounts of money (and driving up electricity prices) into never-profitable solar panels in Germany, the same amount of money invested in solar farms in the sunny Sahara states would be cost-effective and is a major perspective for growth in the region. It is planned to install a “supergrid” in North Africa  and the Middle East to develop concentrating solar power plants as well as wind turbines to sell a large part of the energy generated in an environmentally friendly way to Europe. Moreover, a new high-voltage transmission line linking Africa and southern Europe could be built. Another possibility is to store the generated energy by electrolyzing water into hydrogen and oxygen. For now, the hydrogen could be used to generate electricity on demand and in the future, the hydrogen could be brought to Europe e.g. in pipelines. If the unpopulated areas of the Sahara were covered with solar panels, 630 terrawatts of energy would be generated. The Earth’s current energy consumption is below 14 terrawatts at any given moment. This shows that the Sahara region could become the global power hub in the future. This is the only way to supply enough energy to meet the soaring demand for energy at an affordable price without polluting the environment. And electricity can be easily transformed into other forms of energy and has the widest range of applications. Besides, the infrastructure is already existent in most parts of the earth. Gordon Brown has also urged auto manufacturers to mass-produce electric vehicles. This is part of an overall solution to the current energy crisis. Power taken from the sun is the only resource which is endless. Actually, the solution to the problem is easy. We just have to set up enough solar panels in the desert, get the energy to the places where it is needed and let solar energy power our cars, homes, electric devices and even our planes. The solar cell maker Trina said on Monday that it would supply 300 photovoltaic cells to the French aircraft manufacturer LISA Airplanes. LISA Airplanes will built an aircraft which will be powered by solar and hydrogen. The solar cells will cover the plane’s wings and horizontal tail. The generated electricity will power  a fuel cell for takeoff and on-board power supply. The plane will be propelled by an electric engine.

Probably, future generations can generate enough solar power to feed their demand for energy. But even today, the technology has the potential to help us to consume less fossil fuels and reduce our dependence on fuel imports as well as to combat global warming. Nuclear energy, solar power, wind power, water power and biomass could supply most of our energy. The major difficulty is to apply the technologies where they can be most cost-effective and to combine them intelligently and efficiently.


Filed under Economy, Environment, Global Issues, Politics, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Mediterranean Union will feature flagship initiatives such as solar energy development in sunny North Africa

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