Companies Trumpet African Solar Project

One of the best parts about renewable energy companies are the press releases announcing new initiatives. Unlike most other industries, green energy firms have that most unique, and most dangerous, of commodities in their favor: hope.

And as one solar proponent, President Obama, has learned in his first few months in office, it's often difficult to turn hope into tangible results.

But a consortium of companies in Europe, across a swath of sectors, is sure going to try. The group of 12 signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Munich today to begin the so-called Desertec Industrial Initiative -- an enormous plan to build solar facilities and other renewable energy sources in North African deserts.

The consortium, which reads in-part like some corporate list of European Superfriends, includes conglomerate Siemens ( SI), financial Deutsche Bank ( DB) and reinsurance behemoth Munich Re, along with Schott Solar and others.

The project is only in its infancy (the group still needs to put together business plans and arrange financing), and press releases gave little details. Still, the group said, in all seriousness, that the project aims to produce "15% of Europe's electricity requirements," by 2050 in another statement. Oh, and also produce a "substantial" portion of power for those African nations they're building in -- though the statement goes on to say that "all of the DII's activities will be aimed at developing viable investment plans within three years of its establishment."

Desertec Foundation supervisory board chair Gerhard Knies said, with the release's only exclamation mark, "the founding of the DII is a milestone in the DESERTECT Foundation's concept for global energy, water and climate security!"

"The establishment of the DII is a giant leap by industry for the lasting protection of human life," Max Schon, president of the German Association of the Club of Rome, said with similar fervor in a statement.

Only time will tell, but maybe the group should consult with T. Boone Pickens before making grandiose, renewable energy plans it may, or may not, be able to deliver.

In solar stock news, First Solar ( FSLR), SunPower ( SPWRA) and Suntech Power ( STP) were gaining 1.3%, 1.7% and 3.1%, respectively, in the afternoon.

Evergreen Solar ( ESLR) was up 1.5%, while LDK Solar ( LDK) was in positive territory as well, up 2.1%.

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