12 European companies have launched a €400bn ($560bn) initiative to plant huge solar farms in Africa and the Middle East to produce energy for Europe.

The consortium says the massive proposal could provide up to 15% of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050, writes AFP.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) plans to build solar-power generators from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and pump electricity to Europe via undesea cables.

Engineering companies ABB and Siemens, energy groups E.ON and RWE and financial institutions Deutsche Bank and Munich Re are among the companies which signed a protocol in Munich.

The project will also provide a “substantial portion of the power needs of the producer countries,” the Desertec foundation said in a statement.