Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Desertec critic: "energy cathedrals"

Die Zeit has published an interview with German historian Dirk van Laak, who does not mince his words about the Desertec project:

Jedenfalls ist bisher nicht zu erkennen, dass ergebnisoffen, mit Zeit und auf gleicher Augenhöhe mit den Afrikanern verhandelt würde.... Solche Großprojekte wollen begeistern und faszinieren, statt nach Legitimation zu suchen. Desertec wird von einem Firmenkonsortium getragen: Das spiegelt auch wider, wer sich heute als Akteur versteht...
("There is no sign of any open-ended negotiations being conducted in good faith and on an equal level with Africans... Such large projects are designed to excite and fascinate, not prove that they are needed. A consortium of firms is behind Desertec, and that itself reflects who sees themselves as decision-makers today...)

And if you, like me, are frustrated every time you read that energy prices are rising because countries like India and China are consuming more energy, then you will enjoy how van Laak speaks of Europe's "Verlogenheit des uneinheitlichen Maßstabs..., dass andere weniger verbrauchen sollten als wir" ("the double standard that others should consume less than we do").

It is a rather nice touch that van Laak calls such large solar projects in the desert "energy cathedrals," because that brings the difference in culture/religion back into the picture.

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