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Bosch quits Desertec

The world’s most ambitious renewable energy project suffered another blow yesterday when the Germany technology supplier Bosch announced it was pulling out of the DESERTEC solar project. Stuttgart-based Bosch, the world’s biggest supplier of car parts, said it will quit the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) by the end of the year.

“The economic conditions [do] not allow a continuation of its membership,” Reuters quotes a Bosch spokeswoman as saying.

The decision comes just two weeks after Siemens had announced its exit from the consortium. Siemens, based in Munich, Germany, said last month it will pull out from the loss-making solar business altogether

The DESERTEC initiative was launched in 2009 with the goal of building a network of solar plants across North Africa. Backers of the project hope that by mid-century DESERTEC will supply the region and large parts of Europe with more than 125 gigawatts of electricity.

But the €400 billion project has been criticised for being too risky and expensive. Last week,  Spain delayed signing an agreement that would have allowed Dii to move ahead with building a first €600 million 150-megawatt solar plant in Morocco.

Dii’s chief executive Paul van Son said previously that the exit of single partners does not jeopardize the project. Dii’s shareholders do still include, among others, the German reinsurance company Munich Re, German power utilities E.ON and RWE, Deutsche Bank and the Italian-based UniCredit group. Meanwhile, the Chinese power company State Grid Corp (SGCC) is considering joining the project.

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