Tunisia shortlists developers for 500 MW tender

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Tunisia’s Ministry for Energy, Mines and Renewable Energy has released a list of the 16 prequalified developers for five solar PV projects worth a total of 500 MW. The projects will range from 50 MW to 200 MW in size and will be developed on a build-own-operate (BOO) concession basis. They will also be awarded long-term PPAs.

The tender, initially published on May 11, envisages the construction of five PV projects in a number of states; it is also targeting the Sahara desert for the first time. The province of Tatouine will host the largest project, which will have a capacity of 200 MW when complete. Additionally, two 100 MW PV facilities are planned for the provinces of Kaiouran and Gafsca, while two smaller, 50 MW parks, are set for the provinces of Sidi Bouzid and Tozeur.

The Tunisian Higher Committee for Private Production of Electricity shortlisted the 16 developers among 38 initial bidders. Among the pre-qualified bidders are European energy giants Enel, Engie, Total and EDF (in consortium with UAE-based Masdar and Japan’s Mitsui), in addition to Chinese manufacturer Canadian Solar, Spanish developers Acciona and Fotowatio, French developers GreenYellow, Akuo and Voltalia, Norway’s Scatec, Saudi power company ACWA, and China’s TBEA.

The announcement hints at a policy shift by the Tunisian government, moving beyond the previous model for solar PV tenders being offered to domestic companies to a more international tender. Moreover, it is complemented by plans for a giant 1.7 GW solar complex in the country, which has high solar irradiation levels and solar PV potential.

Tunisia’s renewable energy strategy aims to install an additional 4.7 GW of clean energy capacity by 2030. The latest tender shows that the country’s large-scale PV market has succeeded in attracting major solar industry players – partly catalyzed by its legal framework and bankable PPA policies. Indeed, it is a significant step up for its solar energy policy, as it is the first to target projects larger than 10 MW.

By Amjad Khashman, Masters candidate in Energy Economics and specialized in renewable energy in the MENA region, with technical background