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.
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.”
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
A farmer works in a plantation near the Jerash stream, which flows into the King Talal Dam, near Jerash, Jordan. (Reuters)
LONDON – The Middle East region is struggling to ensure adequate water, energy and food security as resources deplete and demand increases due to population growth and climate change.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), access to water, energy and food security (WEF) are linked throughout the world and play an important role in sustainable development, poverty reduction and human well-being. Achieving a balance between the sectors is important to maintaining stability in the wake of demand increase and resource decline that is linked to climate change, land use and human demographics.
With a finite amount of water meeting the needs of a growing world population, ensuring a reliable supply through proper resource management is critical to human survival. The most commonly used energy production methods are fossil fuel, biofuel production and fracking, the process of shale gas extraction. All of these are highly water intensive and unsustainable in the long term. As a result, there is a growing need for the development of wind and hydropower, renewable sources of energy that require far less water. Geothermal power is another alternative that does not consume water, produces little to no greenhouse gas as a byproduct and can serve as a climate-independent, long-term resource.
Agriculture, however, is the source of even more water usage, accounting for 69% of annual water withdrawal. Households account for 12%, while the industrial sector accounts for 19%, according to the FAO’s AQUASTAT.
As the world’s population grows, demand for food expands with it. The UN has also theorised that more global wealth has caused diets to shift from largely starch-based products to more water-intensive dairy and meat products. To save water, the organisation suggested more energy-efficient measures such as precision irrigation that tracks water providers’ data.
Nowhere are these changes more needed than in the MENA region, where many nations are suffering from limited energy resources and forced to import basic food as production drops. These insecurities are triggering knock on effects in all parts of life, sometimes leading to social and political instability in vulnerable countries.
In Yemen, for instance, years of civil war that have rattled the country’s industry and economy have left it with no option but to import basic food products.
In Syria, as well, drought and displacement have damaged the water-energy-food nexus that is critical to human flourishing.
Water resources are critically low throughout much of the MENA region, with major aquifers being overutilised and left nearly empty.
The only available water supply to most rural communities, springs, have also been rapidly depleting over the last 20 years as a result of agricultural irrigation in Oman, Jordan and, to a greater extent, Saudi Arabia’s eastern provinces.
The latter was the world’s sixth largest wheat exporter until the turn of the century, but it was forced to abandon these groundwater resource-dependent plans after it exhausted its aquifers. Similarly, Oman had no option but to shift from foodstuffs to Khat and to high usage irrigation methods from their long tradition of terraced agriculture.
Triggering a positive feedback loop, MENA’s water insecurity drove migration to urban areas, stressing already unstable public infrastructure.
While it is difficult for MENA nations to divert themselves from water-intense practices, renewable options are the only sustainable path forward for the region.
What are the alternatives?
Going forward, MENA countries should look to reduce demand and dependence on water-intensive sectors. Rising global temperatures will make the task more difficult, but also more important.
Restructuring energy systems is one way to proceed. However, investing in new technologies, such as wind and solar photovoltaic, will come at a high cost for already financially strained countries – an estimated $1 trillion by 2050, according to a 2019 World Bank Group study. But there are economic benefits too that would come from lower dependence on water. The use of water recycling and desalination, for instance, provide a high degree of value. And the MENA region currently accounts for half of the world’s desalination capacity and is set to increase, according to a 2017 World Bank study.
The World Bank estimated that the MENA region would need to increase its supplies by 68 million cubic meters of water, or 60%, by 2050, while implementing moderate improvements in agricultural productivity and land use.
But to achieve water security and meet the region’s ever increasing water demands, the water supply portfolio must also have water recycling integration. Approximately 80% of the wastewater in MENA is simply discharged and not reused, although countries like Tunisia and Jordan have made positive steps towards recycling wastewater for irrigation use. If wastewater is able to be treated to high standards, recycling should be viewed as an important section of the management strategy.
If allowed to continue, insecurity in the water-food-energy nexus will lead to political unrest, displacement and instability. Researchers have theorised that these developments have already been set into motion as the region largely resists adopting new agricultural practices or investment in new technologies.
Originally posted on looking beyond borders: As a key player in the recent Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and with its diplomats more active than they have been in years, Egypt is back as a major influencer in Middle Eastern affairs. From Gaza to Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean to the Horn of Africa, Cairo is now key in…
Originally posted on Eli Lester: The African Colosseum in El Djem, Tunisia
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