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France seeks electricity lines under Mediterranean

Mar 29, 2010 - Planet-Techno-Science

France is working on plans for a consortium of companies to build a vast network of undersea electricity lines to bring solar power from Africa to Europe, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

The project, dubbed Transgreen, aims to bring together power companies, network operators and high-tension equipment makers under the leadership of French energy giant Electricite de France, the sources said.

The initiative is to be unveiled at a meeting of energy ministers from Europe and countries on the Mediterranean in Cairo on May 25.

Under a first phase running until 2012, the consortium would carry out feasibility studies for laying a huge network of high-tension, undersea power lines.

Europe is currently linked to Africa only through a double, alternative-current line with a capacity of 1,400 megawatts under the sea at the Gibraltar Straits.

But several projects are already in the pipeline for undersea cables between Algeria and Spain, Algeria and Sardinia and between Tunisia and Sicily.

Transgreen is supposed to complement a German-led project known as Desertec, which aims to build over 40 years a huge network of wind turbines and solar electricity sites in North Africa and the Middle East.

The network could potentially meet 15 percent of Europe’s electricity needs.