Solar Energy in Tunisia

Tunisia is an energy-dependent country with modest oil and gas reserves. Around 98 percent of the total energy is produced by natural gas and oil. According to the International Energy Agency, Tunisia’s national electricity production totaled 15,311GWh in 2008. In order to meet the rapidly growing demand for electricity, Tunisia will have to expand its power production capacity to 4,400MW by 2011 and to 7,500MW by 2021 which can be achieved by building additional conventional power plants and developing solar and wind capacities.

Solar Energy in Tunisia

Tunisia has good renewable energy potential, especially solar and wind, which the government is trying to tap to ensure a safe energy future. As per conservative estimates, Tunisia has 1,800MW of solar energy and 1,700MW of wind energy potential which is until now yet to be harnessed. The government plans to increase the share of renewable in the energy mix to 4 percent by 2014. The country has very good solar radiation potential which ranges from 1800 kWh/m² per year in the North to 2600kWh/m² per year in the South.

In 2009, the Tunisian government adopted “Plan Solaire Tunisien” or Tunisia Solar Plan to achieve 4.7 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 which includes the use of solar photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems and solar concentrated power units. The Tunisian solar plan is being implemented by STEG Énergies Renouvelables (STEG RE) which is a subsidiary of state-utility STEG and responsible for the development of alternative energy sector in the country. Tunisia is a part of the DESERTEC Initiative which has endorsed the ambitious 2GW TuNur Concentrated Solar Power project whose first phase is expected to begin in 2014.

The total investment required to implement the Tunisian Solar Program plan have been estimated at $2.5 billion, including $175 million from the National Fund, $530 million from the public sector, $1,660 million from private sector funds, and $24 million from international cooperation, all of which will be spent over the period of 2012 – 2016. Around 40 percent of the resources will be devoted to the development of energy export infrastructure.

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