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Desertec: Subsidy Hunters Exiting Sinking Ship


Bosch, the world’s biggest auto parts supplier, is exiting the Desertec project, the second German company to leave the consortium aimed at expanding the use of renewable energy in Europe.

“The economic conditions (do) not allow a continuation of its membership,” spokeswoman for Bosch told Reuters late on Monday, confirming Financial Times Deutschland’s report due to be published on Tuesday.

She said Bosch would no longer be a member by the end of this year.

Bosch, best known for its spark plugs, had invested heavily in solar cells and panels during the German industry’s heyday.

Shareholders of the so-called Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) include German reinsurer Munich RE, utilities E.ON and RWE, as well as Deutsche Bank .

German industrial conglomerate Siemens announced last month it was leaving Desertec and was pulling the plug on its loss-making solar business as part of a drive to improve profitability.

Desertec, a consortium set up in 2009, envisages Europe importing up to a fifth of its electricity from solar and wind parks in North Africa and the Middle East by 2050.

With a projected budget of 400 billion euros ($508.44 billion), the plan has been dismissed as too expensive, too risky and too big. The upheaval of the Arab Spring – the revolutionary wave of popular protests and uprisings that began first in Tunisia in late 2010 – has added to the doubts.

Reuters, 13 November 2012