A German-led consortium of 12 companies will supply solar power to Europe from the Sahara, it has been revealed.

The Desert Industrial Initiative’s (DII) main objective is to supply 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 through power lines across the desert and Mediterranean sea.

DII was put together by German reinsurer Munich Re, which said it believes that the consortium can supply solar power to Europe as early as 2015.

The project will involve concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, which utilises mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a fluid container where super-heated liquid drives turbines to produce electricity.

The US $400bn (£240bn) plan also involves connecting North Africa to Europe via new high-voltage direct current cables, which transmit electricity over long distances with little loss.

The DII said it aims to see large power plants of 1GW running in five years and exporting a certain amount of electricity across the Mediterranean.

The consortium comprises several major power and engineering companies including E.ON, Siemens, ABB and Deutsche Bank.