An Alternative to Climate Change and Nuclear Power

Implementing our scenario could lead to a reduction of car­bon dioxide emission values to a level which would be com­patible with the goal of decreasing the carbon dioxide con­centration in the atmosphere sufficiently to limit global warming to the range of 1.5° to 3.9° C. Assuming 1790 mil­lion tons of CO2 emissions per year in the year 2000 for the EU-MENA region, these emissions could be reduced to 690 Mt/a by 2050, instead of increasing to 3700 Mt/a. The attainable level of 0.58 t/cap/a for the emissions per person and year due to electric power by 2050 is acceptable, in view of the recommended total emissions of 1.0-1.5 t/cap/a

image172given by the Scientific Council on Global Environmental Change (WBGU) of the German Federal government. Oth­er harmful emissions will also be reduced by this scenario, without having to resort to the increased use of nuclear power, with its associated risks.

At present, the technology of capturing and storing car­bon dioxide from coal-fired power plants is under devel­opment. This CCS process is treated in our study as com­plementary, but not as an alternative to sustainable energy sources. It in fact reduces the efficiency of the power plants and thus increases their consumption of fossil fuels by up to 30 %.

All in all, our scenario indicates a way of effectively re­ducing the negative environmental influences of energy production. The model is suitable for worldwide applica­tion, as confirmed by a study from the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the feasibility of the concept in the USA [8].

In order to implement the project, the governments of the EU-MENA countries must take the initiative now and provide the legal and financial boundary conditions for in­vestments in clean and sustainable energy. This is – not unimportantly – also a secure path to a sustainable water supply for the MENA countries.


Studies carried out by the DLR on the potential of sustainable energy sources in Europe, the Middle East and in North Africa have produced the following conclusions: Beginning with an existing fraction of 16 % sustainable energy sources in the year 2000, a fraction of 80 % could be achieved by 2050. To complement the sustainable energy sources, an efficient back­up infrastructure will be needed. It would yield a secure, de­mand-oriented electric power generating capacity with rapid­ly reacting peak-load plants burning natural gas and com­bining variable and flexible sustainable sources in a well-balanced way. Power transport to Europe would be car­ried out over high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmis­sion lines. If a beginning power transfer of 60 TWh/a were in­stalled between 2020 and 2030, it could be expanded to 700 TWh/a by the year 2050. The strong insolation in the MENA region and the low transmission losses of ca. 10 % by HVDC would lead to a competitive power cost of ca. 0.05 €20oo/kWh. Moreover, the quality of solar electricity imports on demand would be very high. Instead of the expected doubling of car­bon dioxide emissions by the year 2050, this concept would reduce them to 38 % of their level in the year 2000. For the to­tal sustainable power plant park in the EU-MENA countries, only 1 % of their land area would be required. This corresponds to the present-day land use in Europe for transportation.


[1] F. Trieb and U. Klan, Modellin g the Future Electricity Demand of Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Internal Report, DLR 2006.

[2] L. Mantzos and L. P.Capros, European Energy and Transport Trends to 2030, Update 2005, European Commission, Brussels 2005: ec. eu – ropa. eu/dgs/energy_transport/figures/trends_2030.

[3] G. Benoit and A. Comeau, A Sustainable Future for the Mediterranean, Earthscan 2005. Executive Summary: bit. ly/SSMDv4.

[4] S. Teske, A. Zervos, and O. Schafer, Energy (R)evolution, Greenpeace, EREC 2007: www. greenpeace. de/fileadmin/gpd/user_upload/ themen/energie/energyrevolutionreport_engl. pdf.

[5] A. T. Kearney, Solar Thermal Electricity 2025 – Clean electricity on demand: attractive STE cost stabilized energy production, ESTELA, June 2010.

[6] L. A.Brischke, Model of a Future Electricity Supply in Germany with Large Contributions from Renewable Energy Sources using a Single Node Grid (in German), VDI Fortschritt-Berichte, Reihe 6, Energietechnik,

Nr. 530, VDI Dusseldorf 2005.

[7] R. Pitz-Paal, J. Dersch, and B. Milow, European Concentrated Solar Thermal Road Mapping, ECOSTAR, SES6-CT-2003-502578, European Commission, 6th Framework Programme, German Aerospace Center, Cologne 2005:

www. promes. cnrs. fr/ACTIONS/Europeenes/ecostar. htm.

[8] H. Price, DLR TRANS-CSP Study applied to North America, U. S. Depart­ment of Energy (DOE) 2007: www. nrel. gov/docs/fy07osti/ 41422.pdf.

[9] F. Trieb, C. Shillings, T. Pregger, and M. O’Sullivan, Solar Electricity Imports from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe, Energy Policy 2012, 42, 341-353.

About the Author

Franz Trieb has worked since 1994 in the Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation Division of the Institute for Technical Thermodynamics of the German National Research Center for Aeronautics and Space (DLR). His main focus is on solar thermal power plants, solar energy resources, and the scenario for utilizing sustainable energy sources in Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.


Dr. Franz Trieb, Zentrum fur Luft – und Raumfahrt, Institut fur Technische Thermodynamik Pfaffenwaldring 38-40,

70569 Stuttgart, Germany.

Franz. Trieb@dlr. de