The green hydrogen that Europe needs for its energy transition should come primarily from Africa – at least the federal government would like it. Is that smart?
Reading time: 7 mins.
Save to Pocket
At the Noor III solar tower power plant in Morocco, mirrors on more than 600 hectares reflect sunlight onto a 240-meter-high tower. It can generate up to 140 megawatts. Hydrogen could also be produced and exported using the electricity.
(Bild: Maxar / Getty Images)
Europe needs hydrogen. Lots of hydrogen. Around 20 million tons in 2030 – for firing in heating systems and power plants or as a basis for ammonia or synthetic fuels, especially for aviation. To do this, the light gas must be produced in electrolyzers using renewable electricity. In Europe, this green hydrogen is currently only available in homeopathic quantities.
Then we just import it, for example from North Africa, many say. Energy from North Africa? That sounds like Desertec. The ambitious project was launched with great fanfare in 2009 and celebrated as a solution to many European energy problems. One source of ideas was Franz Trieb from the German Aerospace Center in Stuttgart, who laid the basis for Desertec with the TRANS-CSP study.
But something went wrong. “Many people didn’t understand our study,” complains Jürgen Kern, who is researching concepts for networked energy systems at DLR together with Trieb. The concept of a huge electricity interconnection network that connects North Africa with Europe was not a suggestion from the study. The beginning of the end for Desertec came in 2011 with the Arab Spring, which plunged some North African countries into chaos and which continues to make planning for alternative energy production risky to this day.
More and more knowledge.
The digital subscription for IT and technology.
All exclusive tests, guides & backgrounds A subscription to all magazines: c’t, iX, MIT Technology Review, Mac & i, Make, read c’t Photography directly in the browser No risk: first month free, then monthly from 9.95 €. Magazine subscribers read even cheaper! Start your FREE month. Try it now for FREE & read more straight away!
Already subscribed to heise+?
Register and read Register now and read the article immediately Go to the homepage
MIT Technology Review
A weekly overview of the most important topics in science and technology – curated by TR editor-in-chief Luca Caracciolo.
You can find detailed information about the shipping procedure and your cancellation options in our data protection declaration.