Tunisia Opting Strongly for Renewables

Tunisia Opting Strongly for Renewables

The Oxford Business Group in the proposed article on Tunisia opting strongly for renewables. The country is one of those countries of the MENA not provided by natural oil resources in its territory. It is in the background of high solar radiation and growing demand for energy, that the North African countries are gradually becoming a big future solar market with Moroccan giant project currently being realised and Algeria’s planning a 4GW for obviously their respective domestic consumption but above all export to the nearby Europe.
We republished the article with our compliments to the publisher.

Tunisia pushes 4.5-GW solar project forward

The recent submission of proposals for the construction of a new solar park project in Tunisia highlight the country’s potential as a location for renewable energy projects at a time when domestic demand for power is rising rapidly.

In early August UK company TuNur submitted its proposal to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Renewable Energies to build the 4.5-GW park in the south of the country. If approved and carried out, the project would have the capacity to power more than 5m homes, or 7m electric vehicles across Europe once fully operational, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind worldwide.

In its submission TuNur outlined plans to export power from the park to Europe via underwater cables. The firm hopes to roll out the facility as a phased development in Rjim Maatoug, located within the governorate of Kebili, which receives double the amount of exposure to the sun as central Europe.

The first segment of the plant will cost €1.6bn to build and is planned to generate 250 MW of electricity, with early estimates suggesting it could be up and running as early as 2020. Electricity produced at the park will provide power to Malta, Italy and France, before being redistributed throughout the integrated European network. The project will require installation of an underwater cable linking the Tunisian network to Malta, which is already connected to Europe. Two other cables joining Tunisia to France and Italy are also under consideration.

Solar and wind projects to boost renewables share in energy mix

TuNur’s proposal, while targeting the European market, comes against a backdrop of initiatives taking shape in Tunisia aimed at boosting capacity to meet growing local demand.

The country remains largely dependent on hydrocarbons. However, many of the new ventures will harness renewable energy technologies as part of a national drive to boost their contribution to Tunisia’s energy mix.

In June the government announced plans to tender projects worth a total of TD400m (€137.7m) that will provide a combined 210 MW of capacity, split between solar power (70 MW) and wind farms (140 MW).

Output from these projects – which the ministry said would include both small-size and utility-scale production facilities – will then be bought by public utilities company Société Tunisienne de l’électricité et du gaz (STEG) under long-term power purchase agreements.

For solar initiatives, 10 MW of planned capacity will be distributed among projects of up to 1 MW, with the remaining 60 MW to be awarded for projects with a maximum capacity of 10 MW. For wind power, meanwhile, 20 MW of planned capacity will be allocated to smaller projects of up to 5 MW and 120 MW to larger projects of up to 30 MW each.

Bids for most projects are scheduled to close on November 15, although a tender for half of the wind-power capacity will be finalised in August 2018.

News of the bids follows a government decision in March to award a €12.5m contract to Italian renewable energy company Ternienergia to develop a 10-MW solar power facility. The overall cost of the plant, to be located in Tozeur in the country’s south, has been estimated at €16m .

Generating capacity of renewables reaches some 342 MW

The push for renewable energy is already leading to large capacity increases. According to the energy ministry, Tunisia’s total installed green power generating capacity had reached approximately 342 MW by the end of 2016.

The government allocated some $1bn (€830m) for renewable energy projects in 2017, with the aim of adding 1000 MW of generation capacity. A total of 650 MW will be sought from solar photovoltaic power projects and 350 MW from wind, while the private sector is expected to contribute an additional $600m over the course of the year.

Tunisia further expects to source 30% of domestic energy needs from renewables by 2030, compared to less than 6% today, according to government estimates. By that time it hopes to have 4.7 GW of installed capacity from renewables using both state and private funding, according to the sector development blueprint, the Tunisian Solar Plan.

The strategy aims to capitalise on the country’s favourable solar exposure, or irradiation, which ranges from 1800 KWh per sq metre per year in the north to 2600 KWh per sq metre per year in the south.

While the move towards renewables has met with widespread approval, industry players have also highlighted the need for more supporting infrastructure.

Saïd Mazigh, general manager, Carthage Power Company, told OBG that transporting and storing solar energy remained an issue, as panels used to generate power are not in constant use. “For Tunisia to capitalise on its sunshine resources,” he said, “it needs to invest in the necessary infrastructure to support solar energy projects.”

 

30MW Sidi Mansour wind farm in Tunisia

30MW Sidi Mansour wind farm in Tunisia

Climate Fund Managers (CFM) and UPC Renewables (UPC) will develop a 30MW Sidi Mansour wind farm in Tunisia. It is reported on African Review of 24 July 2020.

This Sidi Mansour Project is meant to help Tunisia reduce its imports of fossil fuels. It announced earlier on in 2016 the launch of its solar energy plan, to make its electricity generation mix through renewables ten-fold to 30%.

Tunisia boosting renewable energy drive

30MW Sidi Mansour wind farm in Tunisia
The Sidi Mansour Wind Project is set to assist Tunisia in meeting its renewable energy goals. (Image source: Free-Photos/Pixabay)

The project will be one of the first wind independent power producers (IPP) in the country. Climate Fund Managers is participating as co-developer, sponsor, financial advisor and E&S advisor to the project, through the development and construction financing facility under its management, Climate Investor One (CI1). 

UPC will lead the development of the project with its local team that will lead land securitisation, permitting, grid connection, wind resource assessment and engineering and procurement contracts.

“We can start the construction of the Sidi Mansour wind farm in 2020, helping stimulate the Tunisian economy, create local jobs and a social plan for local communities while respecting international environmental protection guidelines,” said Brian Caffyn, chairman of the UPC Group.

The Sidi Mansour Wind Project is set to assist Tunisia in meeting its renewable energy goals. “As potentially the first Wind IPP in Tunisia, this project will be a testament to how CI1’s full lifecycle financing solution can unlock investment in renewable energy in new markets,” according to Sebastian Surie, regional head of Africa for CFM.

In January 2019, UPC was selected as one of the four awarded companies under the “Authorisation Scheme” tender for its 30MW Sidi Mansour project in Northern Tunisia and subsequently signed a PPA with Société Tunisienne d’Electricité et du Gaz. Over its lifespan, the Sidi Mansour Project is expected to lead to a reduction of 56,645 tonnes equivalent of carbon and create more than 100 jobs. The total investment size of the project is expected to be approximately US$40mn.

Tunisia back on the tourism trail

Tunisia back on the tourism trail

Tunisia looks to be recovering the tourist numbers it lost following the 2015 terrorist attacks in Sousse, while jobs and FDI are also rebounding thanks to a batch of reforms. Sebastian Shehadi reports.

Tunisia back on the tourism trail

Sebastian Shehadi | 11/10/2018

 Three years after the 2015 terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia is on track to achieve 8 million tourist arrivals in 2018, which would be higher than the figure in 2014. Correspondingly, FDI figures in the first half of 2018 have also increased.

 

Around 3.2 million tourists travelled to Tunisia between January and June 2018, a 26% rise on the same period in 2017 thanks to a 60% increase in European visitors, according to Reuters.

The return of tourism, a key pillar of Tunisia’s economy, is also reflected in a spending spree by luxury hotel chains in the past nine months. In late 2017, when Four Seasons Hotel Tunis first opened its doors, the Ritz-Carlton announced plans to construct a $129m hotel in the country, while the Movenpick Hotel du Lac Tunis announced a project in early 2018, and Anantara Tozeur Resort is due to open later in 2018.

Investment up

As well as tourism, foreign investment into Tunisia climbed by 16% in the first five months of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017, according to a report published by Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA).

“The increase in FDI is principally due to security stability improvements and the new investment law, effective since April 2017,” says Khalil Laabidi, general manager of FIPA. He adds that this has stimulated investment by simplifying procedures for investors, offering better legal protection and directing FDI into priority areas such as hi-tech industries and projects that create jobs for young people, especially in the interior regions.

Jobs created from greenfield FDI have surged during the first half of 2018, with 3431 new positions in Tunisia, marking almost double the annual figure since 2014, thanks to several large investments in hi-tech industries, according to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets.

In May, Algeria-based Condor Electronics invested in a television assembly plant that will create 1000 jobs, while Germany-based cable manufacturer Leoni expanded its plant in Messadine by creating 1200 new jobs. In the automotive OEM sector, China-based Dongfeng Motor Corporation plans to establish a new assembly plant in a joint venture that will create 864 jobs.

“FDI in Tunisia is very substantial in the manufacturing sector, especially in electronics, automotives and aerospace. However, FDI is also strong in the service sector and ICT,” says Mr Laabidi.

Business centre

The main source of greenfield FDI into Tunisia since 2003 has been in the business and finance sector, which has attracted 82 projects in that timeframe, followed by 40 projects in IT services, 29 in fossils fuels, 24 in electrical components, and 24 in hotels and tourism.

Tunisia is aiming to become a regional technological leader for its industrial sector. In November 2017, the Tunisia Investment Forum showcased the progress being made in implementing new technologies in automotives, mechatronics, agri-business and pharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile, progress in the renewable energy sector is being made. Most of 2017’s greenfield FDI went into renewables, following major investments from Belgium-based WindVision and China’s Sinoma Energy Conservation, according to fDi Markets.

This wave of investment could be attributed to a new Tunisian law on the development of renewable energy, effective since May 2015, which permits the export of electricity made from renewables. The Tunisian government is aiming to increase the share of renewable electricity generation to 30% by 2030.

Rated highly

Most FDI into Tunisia comes from France, which has invested in 128 greenfield projects since 2003, followed by 37 projects from Germany, according to fDi Markets. France’s prestigious Insead Business School ranked Tunisia first in north Africa in terms of talent competitiveness, according to its 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

“Currently, our will is to diversify our partners [when it comes to] FDI origin. For instance, one of our major objectives is to [do more business with] Asia and the Far East,” says Mr Laabidi.

Tunisia’s business leaders are relatively optimistic, with 77% of chief executives having either positive or very positive expectations of local business conditions, according to Oxford Business Group’s ‘Business Barometer – Tunisia’, which surveyed more than 100 CEOs in Tunisia in early 2018.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine

fDi Magazine

 

Solar is gaining traction in MENA region

Solar is gaining traction in MENA region

Solar deployment continued to pick up in the Middle East and North Africa in 2019, the Middle East Solar Industry Association has said in its annual report.  Brian PUBLICOVER in a PV magazine article titled ‘Solar is gaining traction in MENA region – but plenty of obstacles remain’ and dated January 17, 2020, explains the whereabouts of such deployment.


Solar is gaining traction in MENA region
Last year was a big one for solar in the MENA region, but there is plenty more to be done, according to MESIA.
Image: Acciona

The Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) says energy investment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could hit $1 trillion in the 2019-23 period.

The organization cited statistics from consultancy Frost & Sullivan valuing the region’s operational PV capacity at $5-7.5 billion, with an additional $15-20 billion worth of projects set to come online by 2024.

However, policymakers in many countries are still struggling to find the right mix of legislation, technology, financing and procurement options to kick-start development, the region’s top solar industry group said in its Solar Outlook Report 2020.

MESIA noted a large gap among the region’s varied PV markets in terms of cumulative installations and development. Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates lead on deployment with Saudi Arabia soon to swell their ranks. While a handful of countries including Pakistan and Iraq are struggling to bring more solar online, markets such as Tunisia, Kuwait and Oman are starting to add significant projects to the regional PV pipeline, said the association.

Regional policymakers are increasingly prioritizing distributed solar, led by Dubai. The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates launched its Shams Dubai program in 2015 to support residential PV and commercial and industrial solar installation. By October, Dubai had installed around 125 MW of distributed PV capacity at 1,354 sites, MESIA said.

The industry association also highlighted the important role played by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority in getting commercial and industrial projects built, noting market drivers for the segment vary across the MENA region. Cuts to electricity tariffs in markets such as the UAE, Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia have played a role, backed by the establishment of supportive regulatory frameworks, particularly for wheeling and net metering, the regional body said.

Egypt

The Egyptian authorities made significant progress on the massive Benban solar complex last year. Roughly 1.47 GW of solar capacity – including a wealth of bifacial and tracking projects – was commissioned at Benban by the end of November, MESIA said. The $4 billion, 1.8 GW complex will eventually feature 41 projects.

The Egyptian government wants renewable energy to account for 20% of its electricity mix by 2022, and 42% by 2035, including 52 GW of large scale and distributed-generation projects. It continues to look beyond feed-in tariffs with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co (EETC) and World Bank private sector arm the International Finance Corporation signing a deal in April to fund projects chosen via auctions, for example. The EETC signed a solar power purchase agreement with Saudi’s ACWA Power in October for the 200 MW Kom Ombo project, at a price of $0.0275/kWh. Construction is expected to wrap up in the first quarter of next year.

However, Egyptian energy demand is set to leap from 27.6 GW last year to 67 GW by 2030, MESIA said, citing Frost & Sullivan data. To facilitate renewables deployment, the country will need a competitive electricity market and will have to scrap subsidies for fuel and electricity tariffs dating back to 2016 while also facilitating the development of energy storage to support distributed PV roll-out, the industry group argued.

United Arab Emirates

MESIA describes the UAE as a regional “front runner” for PV and it made undeniable progress last year. Having launched commercial operations at the 1,177 MW Sweihan PV project, Abu Dhabi in November the allocated the fifth, 900 MW phase of the massive, 5 GW Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park for a record low power price of $0.01693/kWh. The solar park’s installed capacity currently hovers around the 713 MW range, MESIA said, noting the third to fifth stages of the project will be finished in the years ahead, with full completion scheduled for 2030.

The future also looks bright for solar in the wider UAE, particularly at utility scale. In November, the Emirates Water and Electricity Co closed submissions from developers for a 2 GW solar project at Al Dhafra. That project is set for completion by the first quarter of 2022.

MESIA said it expects a similarly sized tender early this year, as Abu Dhabi may be gearing up to install another 6 GW of solar by 2026. However, PV will have to compete with nuclear and rival renewables in future. With more intermittent renewables capacity coming online, MESIA expects the UAE authorities to start to include more energy storage capacity in future PV tenders.

Jordan

MESIA said energy storage will be “pivotal” to the development of Jordan’s solar sector. The country has been developing storage capacity for a while, as it is struggling to stabilize its electrical transmission network while it brings significant amounts of large scale solar and wind capacity online.

“At this stage, Jordan’s capability to strengthen the grid, commitment to achieve increased energy efficiency and develop additional storage is key for the future market attractiveness,” the industry association reported.

The authorities launched a tender last year for a study on the feasibility of installing 30 MW of pumped storage capacity at the nation’s key dams, MESIA noted.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s growing PV market continues to move from strength to strength, according to the association, which highlighted the 300 MW Sakaka PV plant – the kingdom’s biggest to date. The regional body also noted the Renewable Energy Project Development Office asked 60 pre-qualified companies to submit bids for “six solar energy schemes with a combined capacity of 1.5 GW” late last year, in addition to six projects the authorities started tendering this month.

However, while the country remains one of the most promising regional PV markets, the Saudi authorities still need to tackle key challenges, MESIA said. The government must collaborate more effectively with the private sector, among other things. It also needs to improve the regulatory environment and propose new business models to unlock the potential of its fledgling commercial and industrial solar sector, the industry group said.

Tunisia

Tunisia’s PV sector had a relatively big 2019, MESIA said. The authorities allocated 500 MW of new solar capacity in December to three consortia. Elsewhere, Italian energy giant Eni closed 2019 by commissioning a 5 MW solar plant at an oil concession in Tunisia’s Tataouine governorate, backed by 2.2 MW/1.5 MWh of energy storage capacity.

MESIA sees Tunisia’s commercial and industrial solar segment as particularly promising but noted the market continues to struggle in the face of fossil fuel subsidies. The regional body argued the Tunisian government must introduce incentives such as tax breaks to encourage greater investment in commercial and industrial PV, among other policy considerations.

MESIA also noted the Tunisian authorities have overseen critical investments in grid infrastructure upgrades over the past year, in anticipation of $2 billion of anticipated foreign investment in the solar and wind sectors over the next three years. The Tunisian Ministry of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises has said the expected influx of funds could support development of 1.9 GW of fresh renewables capacity by 2022.

Full potential of solar PVs in the MENA

Full potential of solar PVs in the MENA

pv magazine’s The weekend read article dated February 2, 2019 elaborates on the potential of solar PVs in the MENA.

The region’s climate, developing economies and demographic growth are driving increased electricity demand in the Middle East and North Africa. However, as a hub of conventional energy supply, the region has been slow to embrace PV. To capture more of the value chain and deliver the full potential of solar, there are increasing calls for distributed generation deployment to play a bigger role.

The untapped potential of the MENA region


Jordan’s DG segment has been booming since 2012, with 203 MW of capacity made up of small projects – less than 5 MW in size – already installed, and another 244 MW planned.
Image: Amjad Khashman

Distributed Generation (DG) is gaining momentum in the Middle East and North Africa. Regional governments formerly focused on utility-scale solar have begun to welcome small and medium PV systems. Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia and solar newcomer Saudi Arabia have all introduced legal frameworks to encourage DG adoption.

Traditionally, markets with low access to electricity such as Sudan and Yemen were where DG was needed most. Waleed AlHallaj is a cleantech entrepreneur based in Jordan who believes for DG to flourish in the region, financial innovation will play an important role.

DG project finance “is relatively easy to access, with limited capital and references needed,” said AlHallaj, adding: “Close competition is always expected. The differentiator would be the ability to offer flexible payment terms to customers. Also, already established local mechanical and electrical EPC companies have an advantageous position with their market depth, available resources and manpower.” However, for DG to flourish, enabling regulatory frameworks and government leadership will be required.

Preponderance of utility-scale

Until now, competitive bidding rounds for utility-scale centralized projects have been the preferred renewables option for MENA regional governments. Auctions have succeeded in delivering below grid parity prices, making PV the cheapest source of electricity in the region, with prices as low as $0.0178/kWh, as seen in a record low bid in a Saudi tender of 2017.

It is the economies of scale offered by mega-projects and ideal solar conditions that made such prices possible. Yet the centralized approach requires upgrades to the transmission grid to absorb so much single-point energy. Moreover, skeptics argue such projects fail to bring employment and supply chain capacity.

DG projects in either the residential or commercial and industrial segments are considered more grid-friendly, as the electricity generated is often consumed on-site. Indeed, DG capacity can bring more resilience and flexibility to the electrical system with minimal integration costs. Off-grid applications such as water pumping, with PV integrated with batteries or diesel generators, can be considered DG and used to supply remote and isolated loads.

As small consumers take the initiative to install DG arrays, supportive laws and regulations are essential. Such consumers need to be empowered by regulation to grant them grid access as prosumers – producers and consumers. Cost now appears less of an impediment – recent PV technology cost reductions and technical advancements such as the extended lifetime of modules and continuous improvement of string inverters, have made solar more appealing to potential prosumers.

Besides the advantages for grid operators and electricity networks in MENA states, the bottom-up approach offered by DG has the advantage of employing local contractors and vendors, maximizing solar’s economic and social impact by creating sustainable jobs through project phases from design to decommissioning. And, as AlHallaj noted, they have an existing advantage in the market.

Challenges and success stories

The road to mainstream DG in MENA is still full of obstacles. A chief setback is the lack of legal and regulatory frameworks. Subsidized electricity prices are also limiting the financial feasibility of DG. Countries including Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain apply huge subsidies to electricity tariffs for household and commercial applications.

A skilled, trained workforce is also lacking in some countries – especially those new to PV. As experience has shown in Jordan, technical standards are needed to ensure the safe design, construction and operation of DG systems.

Net metering is proving the favored mechanism to enable DG and seven countries in the region – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, the UAE, Morocco and more recently, Saudi Arabia – have adopted net metering policies, with Jordan and the UAE showing particular progress.

Since 2012, the DG sector has boomed in Jordan, with a total generation capacity of 203 MW made up of small projects – less than 5 MW capacity – and another 244 MW planned. High electricity prices and favorable solar conditions make net metering schemes very successful in the kingdom. In addition, a wheeling scheme was introduced to permit electricity to be generated off-site – very handy for large consumers such as hotels and hospitals in crowded cities where there is limited land on which to install ground-mounted PV arrays.

In Dubai, the Shams initiative was introduced to facilitate net metered rooftop systems. Household and building owners were encouraged to apply through a simple, well structured process including pre-approved contractors and equipment manufacturers. With the help of an online calculator, end consumers can estimative the required system size and energy savings they need.

Saudi focus: winds of change

Saudi Arabia, always viewed as a conventional energy fortress, is dramatically shifting towards renewables. Beside the huge tendering rounds for wind and PV that prompted world record low tariffs, DG is evolving and is about to kick off a new round of electricity reforms in the country. After years of reluctance and lack of a clear strategy, the country has finally taken steps to diversify its energy mix and started to look to solar as a strategic option.

On July 1, the Saudi Electricity & Cogeneration Regulatory Authority put in place the first framework to enable net metering in the country. Projects of up to 2 MW in capacity can be connected on low and medium voltage grids. Only certified PV contractors and consultants can carry out design and installation of small-scale systems. A 20-year connection agreement covers the relationship between distribution company and end consumer.

However, the fees and charges system owners will be required to pay have not yet been specified. To date, contractors are waiting to be officially accredited after providing trained workforce within the requirements. Project requests are already in the hands of Saudi electric companies and are expected to start in this quarter.

Expert opinion

Ali Hamam, MENA head of sales for Chinese module maker JinkoSolar, praised the DG market for its sustainable demand, by contrast with the stop-start nature of the utility-scale segment. As for Saudi, Hamam spoke of huge potential given the market’s vast size, with more than 280,000 GWh of annual electricity consumption by eight million customers. However, he also emphasized the importance of module quality, given the kingdom’s harsh climate. “There are three points to consider closely when it comes to module selection for the MENA region conditions: the quality of the bill of materials, with special attention to the backsheet, which is most prone to high temperature effects; testing procedures, which are advised to be beyond normal IEC standards; and the track record of the module supplier in similar harsh conditions,” he said.

Jordan’s AlHallaj is already engaged in the Saudi market. He said EPCs and contractors have been anticipating growth in the DG segment in the kingdom for some time and stand poised to jump in directly when projects start, which he expects to happen in the first half of this year.

“Even with an expected payback period of seven to eight years, end consumers have shown a huge appetite to build their own DG systems,” said AlHallaj. “Any new increase in electricity tariffs will give extra momentum to the sector, pushing it to boom in a way never seen before in any other country in the region. Even more, other gulf countries like Bahrain and Kuwait may likely follow the Saudi experience.”

By Amjad Khashman.

Solar Power Plants for North Africa

Solar Power Plants for North Africa

After Morocco’s ambitious but almost wholly concretised plan of a vast Solar Power Plant predicted at the time to be a Hard Act for Africa to follow, here is Tunisia coming onto the scene with its rather modest plan so as to reinforce the Solar Power Plants for North Africa
An article of Renewablesnow published this piece of information that was believed worth republishing on this site.

Tunisia sets two deadlines for 210 MW renewable energy tender

June 22 (Renewables Now) – Tunisia’s Ministry for Energy, Mines and Renewable energies has issued a calendar with two deadlines for a tender calling for the supply of 210 MW of electricity generation capacity from wind and solar photovoltaics.

Bidders are expected to submit offers by noon on November 15, 2017, at the latest for 140 MW of the capacity.

Wind capacity bids will be accepted in two batches. The first batch will seek bids with a total capacity of up to 60 MW and up to 30 MW per project. The second batch will seek smaller bids of up to 10 MW in capacity (up to 5 per project).

Wind bids for up to 70 MW will be tendered by November and another 70 MW will be tendered by August 15, 2018.

In photovoltaics, bids split into two batches as well. Both with a deadline on November 15, 2017. Again, the first batch will gather bids for up to 60 MW in capacity with 10 MW max capacity per project. The second batch will tender up to 10 MW with a 1 MW cap per project.

More information about the tender can be obtained via e-mail to ipper.autorisation@energy-mines.gov.tn .

A couple of months ago, Reuters reported that Algeria as per its Minister of Energy will invite bids to build three solar power plants.

It plans indeed to invite bids for the construction of three photo-voltaic solar power plants with a total capacity of about 4,000 MW.  The bids have yet to be made public; knowing that a new government has just been sworn into office and that any action would presumably take longer than first planned.  The former government said in a statement days before its unpredicted departure that the ministry would issue tenders for the three projects, without giving a specific timeline.

The three plants would help meet Algeria’s domestic demand for power and allow for exports of power to neighbouring countries, a source at the Energy Ministry told Reuters.

Several financial institutions, including the French Agency for Development and the African Bank for Development, have shown interest in funding the project, according to the Energy Ministry, calling it a “multi-billion dollar” project.

Sonatrach, Algeria’s giant state oil and gas firm, would fund about 50 percent of the cost of the three plants, a Sonatrach official said.

Last year, Italy’s ENI signed a deal with SONATRACH to develop renewable projects in Algeria.

U.S. firm General Electric had also shown interest in the solar plants with planned capacity of 4,000 MW, the Energy Ministry sources said.

Hit by a crash in revenues due to lower global oil prices, Algeria has been doubling efforts to increase gas exports after several years of stagnant production. Several new gas fields have come on stream in the past year.

According to Clean Technica, Algeria has set a long-term target to have 13,500 megawatts of solar PV power capacity by 2030. Thus, additional solar power tenders can be expected in the future. The North African country also plans to set up 5,000 megawatts of wind energy and 2,000 megawatts of concentrated solar power capacity by 2030.

Meanwhile, Dutch trains now run entirely on renewable energy these last days whilst Germany broke renewables record with coal and nuclear power responsible for only 15% of its total energy requirements.  And a plan to power Europe via massive solar arrays in the North African desert is more than a mirage but less than a reality reported by Lisa Friedman, ClimateWire on June 20, 2011 on Scientific American .

 

 

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