Construction begins on Tunisia’s tender utility-scale PV project

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A consortium formed by Eni International, a unit of Italian oil group Eni, and the Tunisian state-owned oil company Enterprise Tunisienne d’Activités Pétrolières (ETAP) has begun work on a 10 MW solar power plant at an unspecified location in the Tatouine governorate, which is Tunisia’s southernmost region.

“The plant, equipped with a solar tracking system capable of optimizing the energy produced, will provide the national grid with more than 20 GWh/year of electricity and saving a total of about 260,000 tons of CO2 during its planned 25 years of operation,” Eni said in a press release.

The solar facility will provide with power Société local utility Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG). The project is among the six 10 MW solar schemes that were awarded in the 70 MW solar tender, which was launched by Tunisia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Renewable Energies in May 2017, and whose results were announced a year later. “This initiative is part of Eni’s activities relaunch in Tunisia and broadens the scope of cooperation of the two companies through implementation of renewable energy projects also targeting the optimization of the oil sites energy resources and reduction of CO2 emissions, in line with Eni’s strategic objectives,” said the Italian group at the time. The two oil companies, which entered into a broader cooperation agreement in November 2016, are also constructing a 5 MW solar plant at ETAP’s Adam oil concession, in which Eni has a 25% stake.

The tender, which was included in a larger 210 MW renewable energy tender, was the first of a series planned by the Tunisian government, which aims to install around 1 GW of renewable energy capacity in the period 2017-2020. All of the solar parks selected in the tender will provide electricity to STEG under a long-term PPA.

The second 70 MW tender of this kind was finalized in April of this year. Through this procurement exercise, the Tunisian government chose six 10 MW projects proposed by Abo Wind AG and Bejulo GmbH of Germany, Spanish multinational EPC provider Enerland, France-based VSB Energies Nouvelles, China’s ET Solar, and a consortium formed by Aurora, Suneq and Suntrace.

The Northern African country is also set to finalize another tender for 500 MW of solar, and it is widely expected to choose larger projects. So far, it has released a list of 16 prequalified developers.

Eni entered the renewable energy business in 2015 with the creation of an Energy Solutions department. Since then, the company has sought to expand its solar business in Algeria and Ghana, where it has oil and gas operations.