Tunisian project brings Desertec closer to reality

Deserttec_-_slide01Using thousands of mirrors to track the sun, Desertec shows that solar energy export from North Africa to Europe is possible, worthwhile and attainable.In the sands of North Africa, the Desertec Foundation’s vision for a future where the world's deserts supply clean and sustainable energy to the whole of humankind is beginning to take shape

That future begins in the Saharan deserts of Tunisia with a project called “TuNur”.

Using thousands of mirrors to track the Tunisian sun to use its heat to generate electricity, the TuNur Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (CSP) plants will ultimately produce two Gigawatts of electricity, roughly double the average nuclear power plant.

Project developer Nur Energie and its Tunisian partners, led by Top Oilield Services, plan to construct the project in several phases. The first phase is expected to begin in 2014 and the first electricity exports are set to reach Europe by 2016 via a new low-loss transmission line to Italy.

The project has been designed to reduce water requirements to a bare minimum by using a dry, air-based cooling system.

The Desertec Foundation is endorsing TuNur and believes that it can serve as a blueprint for the development of further wind and solar projects in the Sahara.

The project will focus on maximising local value creation in Tunisia.

It provides the country with the opportunity to begin building a new industrial sector, bringing investment, jobs, and thus economic development. Investment will mainly benefit the southern and interior parts of the country, which look set to become a priority area for development for the Tunisian government.

The number of jobs created directly and indirectly over the project’s construction and operational period will come to around 20,000.

As well as relying on local partners and management for project development and local engineering firms, the project will also create new manufacturing industries.

To read the rest of this article, please see the April 2012 edition of African Review

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