The Mediterranean Solar Plan (MSP), launched in July 2008 as one of the major initiatives under the Union for the Mediterranean, is designed to ensure that increased electricity demand in the region can be met in a sustainable and renewable way.
The MSP aims to achieve this through the development of 20 GW of generation capacity from renewable energy sources on the south and southeast shore of the Mediterranean for own production and possible export to Europe. A key element of the plan is also the promotion of a new regulatory framework to better encourage the development of renewable energies and to facilitate the exchange of electricity.
The Mediterranean Solar Plan is a result of collaboration on renewable energy between the EU and its Southern and Southeast Mediterranean neighbours, involving support to the production of solar energy in North Africa. Furthermore, the MSP promotes Energy Efficiency to support significant energy savings in the region.
Energy demand in the Middle East and North Africa is facing a sharp increase and is expected to double over the next ten years. The EU had set itself the target of reaching a 20% share for renewable energy in the EU’s final internal energy consumption by 2010. The role of solar technologies in mitigating climate change is unquestionable. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the direct benefits of improved co-operation between countries are recognised and innovation and private sector investments in the sector encouraged. It is a win-win situation for everybody.
Linking supply and demand
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power could provide up to 25% of global electricity by 2050. This prediction is based on two new analyses of photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP), which the IEA says can be deployed in complementary ways. PV will be used for on-grid distributed generation in many regions, while CSP will be more suited to utility-scale dispatchable electricity in regions with the brightest sun and clearest skies.
Importantly, the IEA says that any further expansion of CSP will require the development of dedicated transport lines to take the generated electricity to areas of consumption, for example linking North African generation sites to consumers in Europe. With the right policies in place, CSP could be competitive for peak and mid-peak loads by 2020 in the sunniest regions of the world, such as North Africa.
The EU is supporting the MSP through a number of projects including the project 'Paving the Way for the Mediterranean Solar Plan' that was launched in October 2010. Furthermore a number of other projects such as the 'Support for the Enhanced Integration and the Improved Security of the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Market' (MED – EMIP) and the second phase of the project 'Energy Efficiency in the Construction Sector' (MED ENEC) contribute to laying the conditions for a renewable energy production and increased energy efficiency in the Mediterranean region. Besides Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is one of the priorities under the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) which provides support to infrastructure investments in the region in cooperation with the European Finance Institutions.