The Desertec Initiative, a coalition of energy and technology companies, has been joined by the US’ First Solar as an associate partner.

Unlike the 13 companies that founded the initiative in 2009, First Solar is not a shareholder in the scheme but rather a participant which will offer technical expertise for the scheme.

Several more associated partners are expected to be added in the next few days. They could take the form of small unlisted companies or financial institutions. The initiative is also set to be joined by four more shareholders shortly.

Desertec has said the expansion of its shareholder base represents an important step towards creating a pan-regional alliance, as most of the founding partners are of German origin. By adding North African companies to the group, it hopes to increase government support from this region.

The initiative was launched in 2009 with the intention of bringing together companies with experience in power generation, to build a series of concentrated solar power, photovoltaic and wind projects in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Desertec scheme intends to supply power to the local market for each plant, but will also export a large portion of the power to Europe. Desertec has set a target of providing 15 per cent of Europe’s power demand by 2050 through its renewable energy projects.

The partners have indicated Morocco is a likely host for the scheme’s first concentrated solar power plant (MEED 24:2:10).