The “Desertec” think tank meets in the land of the Pharaohs

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12th Dii Desert Energy Conference in Cairo

Cairo: From 3 to 5 November 2022, the 12th Dii conference took place in the Egyptian capital Cairo. About 300 participants from both sides of the Mediterranean met for the conference. After 2011, those responsible again chose the Egyptian metropolis for the exchange. The Dii Desertec Industrial Initiative is undergoing a dynamic growth process. More and more associated partners are coming on board the ship for energy conversion in the desert. A wide variety of organisations and companies are meeting to hype the current energy era: Moving green hydrogen production into the Dii circle. 

The spectrum ranges from investors to large companies integrating new technologies to small and medium-sized enterprises dealing with the topic of green hydrogen. In the meantime, 93 partner companies belong to it, says Cornelius Matthes, CEO of the company. The main pillars of the industry association are the shareholders ACWA Power from the United Arab Emirates, State Grid from China and Thyssen Krupp from Germany. The focus is more and more on green hydrogen. The discussions are becoming more profound and the entire process chain is being included in the considerations. It is about the production up to the use of hydrogen in steel cooking and in the mobility sector among other options. This is another development step in the ramp-up of a green hydrogen economy. The MENA region can become a powerhouse of green hydrogen production, according to hopes on both sides of the Mediterranean and by the European Community. It has come under pressure due to Russia’s failure as a supplier of primary fossil fuels.

This brief introduction already shows how colourful the composition of the companies has become, and this is precisely the strength of the concept. Different companies do not primarily compete, but exchange their different competences and innovations in the field of renewable energy in MENA. An example of this is the presentation by Thomas Altmann, CTO at ACWA Power. The company has realised large projects in the MENA region. These include the NOOR solar complex in Ouarzazartre, Morocco, one of the largest solar thermal plants in the world. Through skilful innovation management, it was possible to successively reduce the price of the electricity produced some time ago. In the background is the stable financial commitment of Saudi Arabia. This innovation management can be useful for other processes.

Almost always valuable are the contributions of ACWA Power CEO Paddy Padmathan. He is considered one of the thought leaders in the Dii community and has initiated numerous billion-dollar projects in the region. He sees electricity’s share of the energy mix increasing significantly by 2050. That is why he is involved in the X-Links project, which wants to realise a submarine cable from Morocco to England. Electrolysers for the production of hydrogen and oxygen are certainly an ongoing topic. Considerable increases will be necessary here so that the green hydrogen demand of 30 million tonnes in Europe predicted by the pioneer in hydrogen, Professor Ad van Wijk of the TU-Delft, can become reality in 2030.  

Founding CEO and President of Dii Paul van Son is also a step ahead. He wants to establish the trading of emission-free energy carriers as a new branch of the Dii. These carriers are accorded a special value. The numerous activities should not obscure the fact that a central aspect in the coming decades will be to move from the power point level to power plants. A process that Dii has been accompanying since its foundation in 2009. It will be a step from Top Down to Button Up. It will be about people and their hands as well as their heads. The need for action is huge. The battle for talent on the subject is already in full swing. There is a lot of work waiting to be done to turn market design into value creation processes…

Author: Dr. Thomas Isenburg, science journalist. A comprehensive treatment of the topic with details in specialised media will follow. Pictures can be requested Contact: presse@thomas-isenburg.de

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