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Sustainable Euro-mediterranean Energy Policy PDF Print E-mail
The European Union's White Paper has clearly stated the strategic dimension that renewable sources of energies will have in the share of the Union's future electricity production. Various causes are pushing for such developments amongst which, the depletion of fossil fuels, the heavy dependency of the European Union on their supply and the consequences of global climate changes aggravated by a growing need for electricity worldwide.

In its Energy Roadmap 2050 released in late 2011, the EU commission has predicted that by 2050 wind power will provide more electricity than any other technology in the "High Renewables" scenario. Based on technological innovation and the development of new energy infrastructures with storage capacities across Europe and its neighbors, this scenario lays out broader policy frameworks envisioned for 2050. The EU Energy and Transport Directorate predicted in January 2003 (Trends to 2030)  that in the year 2030, Wind Energy alone would represent 135 GW of electric capacity generation or 12% of overall EU capacity. In 2013 however, 121 GW of wind energy were already installed in Europe from under 13 GW in the year 2000 (2% of EU capacity). These earlier predictions were made assuming that NO specific new environmental policies and measures aimed at meeting Kyoto targets in 2008-2012 and possible more severe ones in the future are implemented over the projection period. This, they claim, would be a rather unlikely scenario to happen. In fact, the International Energy Agency has already predicted in its ' World Energy Outlook 2010 ' New Policies Scenario for 2035, that wind power in the European Union will account for more than 40% of cumulative capacity additions and supply more incremental electricity generation than any other source.

Scarce vegetation in desert landscape, 80 miles from Tarfaya
Since both scarceness of fossil fuels and threatening climate changes represent global problems, an international cooperation is required. EU regulations already provide a legal framework for the integration of the Trans-European electricity supply networks. The extension of these networks, to neighboring countries outside of the EU would be of mutual benefit in enabling broader economic returns while providing additional sources of supplies to the EU's grid.

Several EU directives, programs and incentives are aimed at diversifying, enhancing and optimizing the EU's energy security of supply. Financial guaranties may be even obtained for such projects that are similar to natural gas pipelines, which have created productive economic linkage between different partners.

The German-Russian natural gas tube business built at the end of the cold war set a constructive example for that matter. Today, wind energy could enable us to go way beyond this model and develop a sustainable energy industry, something that the Russian gas example -which has since shown its limits- has not been able to achieve. As energy security, diversification, sustainability and the safeguarding the environment represent global issues; current circumstances suggest that a cooperation framework with the states of North Africa is established. Such a framework would open the possibility of a new form of development policy; enabling partners to integrate a renewable energy manufacturing industry aimed at maximizing the output of the region’s resources. Due to their exceptional nature, the development of a wind industry could expand and gradually feed into a lasting sustainable energy supply network. In opening the euro-Mediterranean energy market to renewable electricity exchanges, the industrial developments induced could lead to a new, comprehensive dynamic generating much needed employments. This represents a significant security asset for the stability of a region currently threatened by social uprisings due to rather limited inclusive economic development prospects.

North Africa-Europe 2x700 MW AC Electric Interconnection
North Africa-Europe 2x700 MW AC Electric Interconnection

This policy option was clearly stated in the Union for the Mediterranean Solar Plan presented by France in 2008. The Mediterranean Solar Plan seeks to establish an effective renewable energy collaboration framework on both sides of the Mediterranean. The objective of the Solar Plan is to focus on concrete projects such as the Sahara Wind Project to support capacity building measures aimed at integrating renewable energies locally. Through a shared Euro-Mediterranean vision in the field of renewable energy developments, the Mediterranean Solar Plan provides a new dimension to the European Union's Neighborhood policy.

Historically, the European Union's Barcelona process MEDA and now EUROMED programs funded parts of the existing 700 MW undersea cable interconnection linking both continents through Spain and Morocco. This electrical interconnection run by bilateral agreements, has already been doubled to 1400 MW while plans for extensions are currently being considered. At present time, only limited amounts of wind-electricity could be transported from the Sahara desert. Due to its remoteness, the existing grid infrastructures connecting North African load centers to the Saharan region remains weak. This prevents any power flows to occur. Sidestepping transmission losses as well as intermittency challenges by opening it to broader grid networks, the Sahara Wind Project HVDC line makes a significant wind resource accessible.