400 billion euro plan to bring African solar energy to Europe

Twelve European companies on Monday launched a 400-billion-euro (560-billion-dollar) initiative to set up huge solar farms in Africa and the Middle East to produce energy for Europe.

The consortium says the massive project could provide up to 15 percent of Europe's electricity needs by 2050.

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

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"Today we have taken a step forward" towards the project's realization, said Nikolaus von Bomhard, head of the reinsurance giant Munich Re, which hosted the signing.

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