oil and gas

Sun-soaked North Africa pushes for cheap energy

November 14, 2022

TUNIS: Solar panels glint in the sun on a Tunisian lagoon, part of a long-delayed drive to harness the North African country’s vast renewable energy potential. While industry insiders complain of red tape, fossil fuel prices that soared after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine created a powerful incentive for such investments across the Maghreb region.

“Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, each have an abundance of solar energy resources as well as ample wind energy resources,” said Michael Tanchum, an expert on the sector. “Extreme price pressures on natural gas, especially in Europe, have changed the calculus for investments in renewable energy.” Omar Bey, of French-based renewables developer Qair, hopes the firm’s 200-kilowatt floating solar station on a lake next to a Tunis industrial park can be a prototype for bigger projects nationwide.

“Tunisia doesn’t have any choice but to go for renewables, given the situation around hydrocarbons and particularly gas,” he said, adding that innovations like floating solar stations could help. Being on reservoirs or lakes helps cool the panels, making them more efficient, and “means we can use water instead of taking up land that can be used for other things like farming or homes,” Bey said.


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