Tunis steps up solar drive

11 April 2019, Week 14, Issue 652

Tunisia’s Ministry of Industry & SMEs (MISME) has chosen the developers to build six 10-MW solar independent power projects (IPPs) in the second licensing round of the government’s new procurement regime. 

MISME awarded contracts to Germany’s ABO Wind and Bejulo, Spain’s Enerland, France’s VSB Energies Nouvelles, China’s ET Solar International and a consortium of the local Aurasol with Germany's SunEq and Suntrace. The locations were not disclosed. 

The ministry, which took over the functions of the Energy, Mines & Renewable Energy Ministry in 2018 following a corruption scandal, launched a tender for a total of 70 MW in May 2018. It received bids in December after two deadline extensions. 

The tender included 10 1-MW licences, which were not awarded leaving only 60 MW set to be built. 

This second bid round follows the first 70-MW round, which awarded contracts for six 10-MW projects and four 1-MW plants in May 2018. 

The 10-MW facilities are to be situated at Tatouine, Kasserine, Kairouan and Sfax, with two Sidi Bouzid. 

The developers will sell output to state utility Societe Tunisienne de l'Electricite et du Gaz (STEG) under 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Meanwhile, the ministry is set to issue tenders for five far-larger PV facilities with a total capacity of 500 MW following the completion of the prequalification process in November 2018. 

This third round has now attracted the attention of international renewables heavyweights. 

A list of 16 prequalifiers released in November included interests from EDF, Masdar, Mitsui & Co., Engie, Total, ENEL, Acciona, Swicorp and ACWA Power.

ACWA Power has won a series of large-scale solar IPPs in North Africa over the past two years and has become the dominant player in Morocco. 

The 500 MW is due to comprise a 200-MW plant in the southern Tatouine desert region, where the government announced plans in September for the phased establishment of a 1,700-Mw solar park near the Libyan border. 

The third round also includes two 100-MW facilities at Kairouan and Gafsca and two 50-MW projects at Sidi Bouzid and Tozeur. 

In 2012, the government set a goal of 30% renewables by the end of 2030, requiring 4,700 MW. Tunis also set an interim target of 1,000 MW by 2020. 

At present, the country has no utility-scale solar plants. However, STEG operates 245 MW of wind capacity at wind farms at Sidi Daoud and Bizerte.

In January, developers were selected for the first wind IPPs. Abo Wind is to build 30 MW at Ben Arous. Hong Kong-based UPC Renewables and France's Lucia Holding and VSB are to build 30 MW each at Bizerte. 

Due on stream by the end of 2020, output from the plants will again be sold to STEG under 20-year PPAs. 

At present, some 97% of Tunisia's generation capacity is gas-fired – fed by a combination of domestic production and imports from Algeria.

 

Edited by

Richard Lockhart

Editor

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