The ambitious plan to cover Southern Europe, North Africa and parts of the Middle East with solar power plants connected to Europe via a supergrid looks to be on course to get started in 2012. The Desertec plan kicks off next year with the construction of a 500 MW solar thermal power plant in Morocco, a trial solar plant that will hopefully be the first of many.
The Desertec plan appears to be predominately driven by the Germans who have been pushing ahead aggressively with renewable energy at home, with a number of German companies being large players in the world of engineering and renewable energy. However, Germany isn't an ideal location for many types of renewable energy so the Desertec scheme eventually plans to cover Europe, North Africa and some Middle Eastern countries with a integrated supergrid allowing power to be produced in any of these locations and then sent where it is needed. Ie: Geothermal from Iceland, Hydro from Scandinavia, Wind from the UK, Solar from Spain, North Africa and the Saudis can be routed whereever it is needed.
If managed successfully Desertec stands to be a win-win situation for both Europe and Africa, providing clean power for Europe as well as electricity and economic development to many African nations. After-all it's not as though there is a shortage of sunlight in the desert so why not use it.