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Tunisia export potential

Installed wind power capacity in Tunisia is set to jump from 19.4 MW to 54.4 MW by the end of the year with construction of a 35 MW extension to the country's sole installation to date, at Sidi Daoud, near Cap Bon on the north coast. The extension is being built by Spain's Gamesa for state utility Societé Tunisienne d'Electicité et du Gaz (STEG). Gamesa has also been selected to develop and build 120 MW split between three sites at Métline, Kochbate and Ben Ouf, all in the north of Tunisia, following an international tender. Under the terms of the turn-key contract, Gamesa will operate the plant for five years. Completion is scheduled for 2010 or 2011.

Another big project waiting in the wings is that proposed by Italy's Moncada Energy Group. The company has applied for permission to construct a 500 MW wind power plant at El Haouira in the northern Nabeul peninsula, plus a 600 MW, 400 kV merchant line allowing the output from this and other possible renewables projects to be transmitted back to Italy. The 223 kilometre undersea line will link the transformer stations at El Haouira and Partanna in Sicily.

The founder of the Italian company, Salvatore Moncada, says the initial response from the Tunisian government has been positive. He points to expectations that a bilateral agreement will be reached in the next few years that would allow wind energy produced in Tunisia and exported to Italy to qualify for green energy certificate prices and count towards Italy's renewable energy targets, as is the case with Albania (page 86).

Tunisia is also following Morocco's lead in encouraging large users of electricity to invest in renewables generation, with some 60 MW of wind power planned under a new government initiative. Investors will be allowed to sell any surplus to STEG at TND 0.08/kWh (EUR 0.045/kWh). Various changes to national law are required first, with draft legislation now in its final stages. It could possibly reach the statute book by the end of the year.

The finishing touches are also be made to the long awaited Tunisian wind atlas, which will be presented in the early part of next year. The German Development Corporation believes there is potential for 1000 MW of wind power in Tunisia. In the windiest, northern regions annual average wind speeds can reach up to 10 m/s.

Rapidly rising fuel costs, increasing demand and a widening supply deficit are driving the government to use its renewable resources. Its recent Energy Efficiency Plan 2008-2011 sets a target of 4% of energy to come from renewables by 2011 and 6.5% by 2030, from less than 1% today. To achieve the goal, an estimated 175 MW of wind power will be required by 2011, assuming energy efficiency measures kick in as expected.

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