Friday, August 07, 2009 EUMENA = Europe, the Middle East and North Africa While we’ve been busy

shoring up oil reserves and fighting (amongst ourselves) over the merits of a policy of foreign intervention, merited vengeance, and protecting the homeland from terrorism, the rest of the world has taken a holiday from American influence (or, in some cases, had a gut full and no longer cared about our opinion). When the cat is away the mice will play – all by themselves. Last month a consortium of countries from EUMENA (a new name for readers to learn – Europe is expanding into Asia and Africa) joined forces with a one trillion dollar budget to create a solar power grid to supply cheaper energy. Called Desertec the expectation is that a concentrated solar power (CSP – another new acronym) array grid could supply 15% of all Europe’s electricity needs within 40 years. And where are they sighting these grids? In North Africa. Like the US oil giants before them, capturing the natural resources of a previously poor nation, converting those resources into wealth, brings to the contractor tremendous influence. They may call this the harvesting of renewable sources in the Middle East and North Africa and they may sing the benefits forthcoming to the EU community and bank balances, but it is also an economic boon to those poorer nations and, of course, builds relationships which will, at least for a few decades, create alliances that may not be wholly in the US’ strategic interests. For example, these CSP generators will also provide cheap energy for the local nations. Most of Africa is energy poor, just as Saudi Arabia was energy poor until our US oil technology brought their resources online. In fact, Africa as a continent currently only has and uses 3% of all the energy produced worldwide. With their own Desertec energy resources – even if 90% of it goes to the EU - they can triple their continent-wide consumption. Energy means factories, commerce, and power. How much land will they need? Since the Sahara alone is about 9,000,000 square kilometers, Desertec’s paltry 1,500 square kilometers of CSP’s may sound huge but it will not change that environment or displace anyone in the process. It is really only 370,000 acres. Of course, if they used 65,000 square kilometers, they could supply 100% of all the world’s needs. And the climate change argument is not one wasted on politicians either, that is how they got the money budgeted – people in Europe want to shore up the environment, if possible. Desertec seems a benign way to get something for nothing –the desert’s baking sun turned into juice for homes and industry. Seems a win-win situation, until you look at the “pipelines” they will need to build.

With over 20,000 miles of high-energy cabling needed, it makes this Administration’s claim to build our “stimulus” energy grid enhancements seem like child’s play. Speaking of the USA, the Desertec plan up to 2050, if duplicated here, would use up about 430 Central Parks worth of land. Out in the desert southwest, there are millions of acres that are un-owned, unused and baking in the sun all year long. If we’re going to get serious about alternative energy – for all the most viable reasons (the environment and national security), it is time we get back into the global energy game of “uplifting” other nations all the while we shore up our own. Drilling wells off the coast of our nation just uses up hidden resources, resources that cannot be replenished. Using the sun, which renews daily, could be a significant boon to our economy – at least as significant as Desertec’s will be to EUMENA.