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Tunisia banking on solar to reduce its reliance on burning gas for electricity

North Africa

Tunisia bets on big on solar, govt approves 5 key solar projects

The North African country is currently implementing solar energy projects totalling 1,000 MW to reduce its energy deficit which stands at 55% of the population

Tunisia boasts 3,000 hours of sunshine per year with peak sun hours (3, 400/ year) in the Gulf of Gabès (southeastern Tunisia) – a manna for a country striving for years now to contain and reduce its energy deficit which stands at 55% in 2019 against 20% in 2010.

Photovoltaic solar power, a well-mastered technology in Tunisia can be tapped into to meet ambitious goals related to renewable energy use, said Director of renewable energy at the National Agency for Energy Conservation (French: ANME), Nefaa Baccari.

Projects with 1000 MW capacity

Solar photovoltaic power is rapidly developing in Tunisia with the country currently implementing projects totalling 1,000 MW.

The ANME approved a first tranche of projects, and five of the solar power plants have an overall capacity of 500 MW.

“These solar power plants will be set up in Tozeur (southern Tunisia), Sidi Bouzid (50 MW), Kairouan (100 MW ), Gafsa (100 MW) and Tataouine (200 MW),” said Baccari.

Tariffs among the lowest in Africa

The proposed tariff as part of the Tataouine project at 72 millimes/kilowatt hour, is the “lowest ever in Africa” and among the lowest in the world.

Proposed tariffs as part of these projects (80 millimes on average) are intended to curb production and subsidisation costs. The aim is also to reduce natural gas imports by 5%.

The country eyes a total power output of 400 MW when it comes to photovoltaic solar power generation as part of the authorisation system, the official said.

With respect to industrialists who eye self-production, 210 projects connected to the medium-voltage grid with a total capacity of 36 MW were authorised.

Public institutions, target of energy strategy

Tunisia started the new energy transition programme in 2021. This programme provides for putting in place photovoltaic solar panels in buildings of ministries and public sector establishments, Baccari said. The ultimate goal is a capacity of 30 MW photovoltaic energy in 250 public establishments and a 20% drop in electricity bills.

The project is co-funded by Germany’s Development Bank, KfW.

Solar plants for all houses

New projects are being finalised and will launch this year, including two geared towards households consuming 1,200 KWh/year to 1,800 KWh/year and less than 1200 KWh/year, respectively.

These projects will launch as part of a pilot action in Tozeur. 4,000 PV panels will be installed by 2022.

The projects will rolled out over five years and will help 800,000 Tunisian households save up to 41 million dinars. They will generate 53 MW of photovoltaic solar power and result in CO2 emissions dropping by 0.88 million tonnes by 2044.

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