Renewable OPEC: Careful What You Wish For – WSJ

Posted on May 14, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The U.S. and Europe both dream of securing more energy “independence” from fickle oil- and gas-exporting nations. Both have grand plans for huge solar-power plantations in the desert that, on paper at least, could help meet that goal. But Europe has one huge problem compared to the U.S.—its deserts are actually in North Africa, smack in the middle of OPEC country.


Whose desert? That’s the key (Associated Press)

What’s that mean in practical terms? Even as the world increasingly inches away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, many oil-producing countries are scrambling to keep their bargaining power alive. Algeria’s oil minister—and current OPEC president—Chakib Khelil just flexed Algeria’s energy muscles. But not with oil this time—with solar power, which Algeria says it has in spades, enough to power Europe many times over. How to make a niche market a seller’s market? Dow Jones Newswires reports today on Algerian frustration with Europe:

“There’s no question we want to do it: we have the space for it, we have the (solar) radiation,” Algeria’s Oil Minister Chakib Khelil said in a recent interview […] But Khelil says that so far European countries have said they are unwilling to pay the premium for solar energy from Algeria that they would pay to providers in their own countries.

“That’s the problem. I said, ‘Would you give me the 30% (premium) you give to renewable energy? They said no, it’s only applicable to Europeans,” Khelil said. That has slowed down plans to directly link up Algeria with Europe’s electricity grid…Khelil says Algeria is ready to revisit its plans, including joint ventures with European companies for solar energy exports, as soon as European governments offer the right conditions.


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