Renewables across the Sahara

North Africa has the weather conditions and large tracts of open land needed to support significant solar and wind power development. Morocco and Egypt have been the most successful at building renewable energy projects, but other countries across the region also have ambitious plans to meet rising power demands while decreasing their dependence on fossil fuels.

Of these other countries, Tunisia is leading the way.

Tunisia’s Ministry of Industry in April (2018) announced plans to tender around 1GW of solar and wind capacity, and to invest roughly $5.6 billion in electricity generation and other projects by 2020.

Seven months later, the Ministry had pre-qualified 28 bidding teams for the tenders of 500MW of solar PV and 300MW of wind projects.

These were not the first renewable energy auctions undertaken in the country. In May 2017, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Renewable Energies tendered 210MW of wind and solar capacity, and by last month (January 2019) 120MW of wind projects had been awarded.

Elsewhere in the region, Algeria tendered 150MW of clean energy in November (2018), while Libya is also advancing renewable energy plans.

Operational renewable energy projects in Tunisia
Technology Project Capacity
Wind Bizerte Wind Farm Stage 1 120MW
Wind Bizerte Wind Farm Stage 2 70MW
Wind Sidi Daoud Wind Farm 54MW
Wind Kchabta Wind Farm 45MW

Tunisia is ahead of Algeria and Libya in terms of operating renewable energy projects, having four active wind farms with a total capacity of almost 300MW, according to IJGlobal data.

Algeria and Libya have set clean energy targets of 6% and 7% of total generation, respectively. Algeria announced a framework for delivering 4GW of solar power in 2017 but has only recently issued a tender for an initial 150MW of capacity.

Likewise, Libya also has its own renewable energy strategy but it is on hold due to the country’s ongoing civil war. The country has no operating clean energy generating plants to date.

Tunisia has set a more ambitious target of 30% – or 4.7GW – renewable energy by 2030. Its most recent auction features the 200MW Borj Bourguiba solar PV plant in the region of Tataouine and 200MW Jabel Abderrahmane wind farm in north eastern Tunisia. According to IJGlobal data, the country has 1,050MW of solar and wind projects in the pipeline, compared to a much more modest forecast for Algeria and Libya.

The recent Tunisian tender has attracted a large number of European and Chinese firms. IJGlobal data shows that European bidders account for over 50% of all competing developers.

A very promising development in a region which remains challenging for investors.