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Miracle or mirage? a debate on environment and technology in the light of the desertec project for the Mediterranean region

Grant number: 14/25933-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): February 28, 2015
Effective date (End): February 27, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal Investigator:Leila da Costa Ferreira
Grantee:Luiz Enrique Vieira de Souza
Supervisor: Jiang Jiuchun
Host Institution: Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Ambientais (NEPAM). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), China  
Associated to the scholarship:13/06184-6 - Miracle or Mirage? A debatte on technology and environment in light of the Desertec project for the Mediterranean region., BP.PD


The purpose of this research project is to analyse the potentialities and barriers for the deployment of thermo solar power plants in desert regions. According to the plans presented by the Desertec Foundation, the Middle-East and North African countries present the ideal conditions for the operation of power plants based on "Concentrating Solar Power" (CSP) technologies, due to their very high levels of "Direct Normal Irradiance" (DNI). The "desertec concept" gained force when the Union for the Mediterranean lauched its Mediterranean Solar Plan, aimed at developing more 20 GW of renewable energy capacity and achieving significant energy savings in the Mediterranean region by 2020. Besides contributing for the energy security of Maghreb and Mashreq countries, thermo solar plants would transmit "green electricity" to Europe through HDVC cables. However, political and economical issues have interfered negatively in the meanwhile, and European countries that initially acted as supporters - e.g. Germany and Spain - have showed little enthusiasm for CSP expansion in recent years. Affected by the economic crisis in the Euro-zone, Spain has declined the financial support for the construction of a CSP station in Marocco, which caused the withdrawal of Desertec Industrial Initiative's partner companies, such as Siemens and Bosch. Neverthless, these setbacks were partially compensated by the association of the State Grid Corporation of China to the Desertec consortium. Therefore, the idea of developing part of this research project in Beijing is to verify the "Chinese Hypothesis", which is the assumption that Chinese investments may play a decisive role in scaling up CSP technologies worldwide. The 12th Five-Year-Plan seems to corroborate such hypothesis due to the emphasis given to the development of renewable energies and, more specifically, to the deployment of solar energy projects. (AU)

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