Power & Energy

Tunisia at last opts for solar power

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Sabry Ben Ibrahim is the head of the municipal council in Douz, a small town in southern Tunisia, where the sun shines in all his glory for almost all the year round. According to Ibrahim, “solar power could be the third largest sector in the country.” In Douz, a specialized government agency has been set up to promote agriculture by providing subsidies for farmers to power their wells with solar energy. Another project in collaboration with the state-run energy agency offers discounts for homes that heat water with solar panels.

The Tunisian government, which has already invested $1 billion in renewable energy in 2017, says it plans to have 30 % of the country's energy have its source in the renewable energy resources. The current rate is less than 6 %. The project would also generate significant employment opportunities in the economically deprived Tunisia and would also produce renewable energy in accordance with the Paris accord. Other African countries like Egypt and Morocco are also debating whether or not to increase their solar power generating resources.

To state Ibrahim’s idea, he wants Tunisia to export the solar power and manufacture the solar panels within the country. According to expert researches, Tunisia is in dire need of foreign currency reserves and job opportunities, both of which would be generated by the mega-project that is being planned by TuNur, a London-based solar developer, with a capacity to create 4.5 Gigawatt solar power plant that can pipe electricity to Malta, Italy, France and perhaps the United Kingdom with its own project via submarine cables. Incidentally, TuNur is also being backed by Tunisian and Maltese investors and an amount of $12million has already been spent.

Daniel Rich, the chief operating officer, says that Tunisia was chosen because of its sunny location, which made the route technologically feasible, and its congenial regulatory framework and reputation as a good place to do business. "It creates new jobs, new economic revenues, new opportunities," says Rich of the benefits for Tunisia. "It's bringing more investment and lenders into the country. It's bringing more technological exchanges. … We are prepared to take the investments to open the market."

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