Africa > North Africa > Tunisia > Tunisia to Energize Europe

Tunisia: Tunisia to Energize Europe

2012/01/29

 

 

 Tunisia to Energize Europe

In the desert of Southern Tunisia, a group of renewable energy entrepreneurs, NUR Energie Ltd, and their Tunisian joint venture partner, Top Oilfield Services, are creating what may just be the majority ambitious solar power renewable energy project to date. Along with the endorsement of the Desertec Foundation, NUR Energie has launched the TuNur project to export solar energy from North Africa to Europe, linking Tunisia to Italy via a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Cable and into the Italian electricity grid in order to supply a constant 2,000 MW of electricity. When completed, TuNur is set to be the world's major solar energy project. And with the menacing reality of climate change, limited traditional energy reserves and memories of recent nuclear and oil disasters, renewable energy is no longer the choice of idealists, but a simple necessity. We as a human race cannot afford to not go full speed ahead with projects such as this.

What is so unique about this project is that it is a true South-North collaboration which is taking a profound look at not only the socioeconomic benefits the collaboration can bring (the TuNur projects that the project will create an estimated 20,000 much needed jobs in Tunisia), but as well taking into consideration environmental impacts which have affected the technology chosen (CSP solar) and the in general design of the project. In order to not add to the desertification process, TuNur will make use of very little water and will recycle in a closed system the steam produced by the process of the array of mirrors reflecting sunlight to a tower storage unit thereby turning the Sahara into a resource which can drive both the local economies inclunding satisfy growing request for low carbon electricity.

Unlike other ambitious projects, where idealism, high costs and bad timing, came before the practical realities of setting up massive solar pipelines, NUR Energie's TuNur project arrives right on time. The combination of the horrific incident at Fukushima which forced Germany and other European nations to either decide to phase out nuclear energy and the increasing need to meet EU guidelines on renewables in the years approaching, means that TuNur's ability to make up for what will be an increased request is being recognized by the likes of the World Bank, the European Commission. Other entities which stand to gain from this initiative include Brightsource Energy Inc (who was represented in Tunis by former ambassador to Morocco, Tom Riley) and the Tunisian people themselves. The TuNur project will not simply be supplying electricity to Europe, but will as well be providing industrial and economic development to the local community.

Perhaps of the majority interesting and positive outcomes of most of NUR Energie's projects is how they are working hand in hand with those from the oil industry to make use of another's knowledge and skills, inclunding combining assets, even converting polluting industries and their waste, into renewable energy locales. This rising from the ashes approach is not only realistic, but as well the best way to bring the additional traditional energy sector (with its 8 trillion USD annual turnover and a lot of hundreds of millions of subsidies) to the renewable energy table.

Kevin Sara, the CEO of NUR Energie Ltd, said something to me at the conference in Tunis (hosted by the British ambassador, Chris O'Connor) which resonated with my own Texas background and understanding of the oil industry when he asserted that, "Renewable energy folks are energy people, unlike the electrical utility types because we capture the source energy so we are additional like the oil industry than the electric industry. People in the oil industry know how to take risks and build large infrastructure projects in hostile natural environments."

Thus it makes sense to work with the likes of "wildcatters" and the private oil sector in Tunisia. Converting both the oil industry and phasing out nuclear is not easy, precisely because the economics created by recent disasters, such as Fukushima and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, entail massive cleanup projects which will last, in some cases decades, and bring in revenues to what are usually subsidiaries of the very kinds of companies which helped create the disasters in the first place.

The likes of Tunisia and Morocco (another locale where NUR Energie is setting up solar projects along with Greece, France and Italy) are not only growing economically and demographically, these nations are finding themselves rated higher than much-troubled Spain and Greece. The deep need for employment and an increasingly well-educated workforce is a major focus of discussion in Tunisia which is already in discussions about how best to train those who will educate the next generations of the renewable energy workforce. TuNur Ltd's CEO in Tunisia will be Dr Till Stenzel, who is looking forward to "... working closely with the Tunisian authorities, inclunding European utilities and governments" to make sure this project happens, and meets amount of its ambitious, from now on very much needed goals. Dr. Stenzel adds that TuNur is, "... natural production on an industrial scale."

Related Articles
  • Tunisia holds international exhibition on security equipment

    2016/04/04 With the constant insecurity caused by the incursions of jihadists, individuals, businesses and public services, are turning to electronic surveillance equipment. In order to bring closer manufacturers and consumers, the Tunisian center of Fairs, Exhibitions and Congress in collaboration with the Tunisian Security Trade, has organized the 2nd Edition of the International Security Exhibition Security Expo 2016. The two-day trade equitable Security Expo took place from March 28 to 31 and allowed exhibitors to display their new products ranging from the safety of persons to property protection.
  • Tunisia to benefit from improved shipping links

    2016/03/25 A new regional shipping agreement is set to bolster Tunisia’s links to key hubs in the Mediterranean, as part of the country’s efforts to improve the performance of its maritime sector. The “Motorway of the Sea” (MoS) project will take the form of a high-frequency, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) freight service connecting the Tunisian ports of La Goulette and Radès with facilities in Turkey and Italy. The initiative, which has been in the planning stages since 2008, is expected to support regional development by facilitating concentrated, intermodal freight movement by integrating short-sea shipping with road and rail transport.
  • Tunisia: Fence Built On Border With Libya Completed

    2016/02/09 Minister of National Defence Farhat Horchani announced Saturday the completion of the erection of a barrier on the border with Libya. Works, carried out over 250 kms (from Ras Jedir to Dhehiba), lasted only four months instead of a year, he noted. During a field visit to the buffer zone in the Tunisian south, Horchani said the defence system will be equipped in the coming months with an advanced electronic sensor system, in co-operation with the United States and Germany.
  • Africa,Protect Refugees With Mobile Banking

    2016/02/08 "Mean spirited", "inhumane" and desecrating the spirit of the Refugee Convention are some of the milder criticisms levelled at Denmark's harsh new asylum laws, passed last week. Part new measures is a decision to strip new arrivals of any cash and valuables worth additional than 10,000 kroner (US$1,450), purportedly to pay for their upkeep. Switzerland and some southern German states have introduced similar policies. It's a move that reflects the fragmenting world of European migration policy, lacking in solidarity, empathy and basic human decency. But what of the financial implications for asylum seekers?
  • African Union merges science and education bodies

    2016/01/13 The Africa Union has merged its science and education bodies in a move designed to improve sectoral relationships, effectiveness and efficiency. The African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology and the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union will presently operate as one entity. “The decision of the heads of states was as well motivated by the need to streamline ministerial conferences, limit their number and confer the power to convene them to the African Union Commission and save costs,” Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, the African Union’s chief of human resources, science and technology, told University World News.