Photovoltaics promotion measures in Tunisia in a nutshell [Part 1]

It’s not a secret that Tunisia is a country with very limited resources. Energy efficiency measures were promoted since the 1990′s, even when the country was a net exporter of electricity. Solar thermal systems for hot water were promoted and subsidized form two decades, and with the decrease in PV systems cost it was only logical to extend the national solar energy promotion scheme to include electricity generation as well.

The project “PROSOL ELEC” was enacted in 2009, and is basically the country’s first policy tool to promote small scale, distributed, grid-tied power generation. It was drafted by the STEG (National Electricity and Gas utilities Company) and the ANME (National Agency for Energy Efficiency) with very close help from the GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation).  The highlights of  this promotion instrument cam be summarized in the points below:

  • Systems limits are 1 or 2 kW, depending on your annual consumption ( 1 kW if annual consumption is >2000 kWh and 2 kW if annual consumption >4000 kWh).
  • Net metering system is selected: Electricity generated is simply fed into the grid and metered, and consumption is also metered. At the end of billing period if the consumption is higher than the production (most likely always the case) then the customer has to pay the bill, otherwise the excess of production is booked as an account receivable for the next billing period. In not case does the PV system owner earn cash. FYI electricity price in Tunisia is around 9 EUR ct/kWh.
  •  Applicant for the subsidies must be connected to the low-voltage grid (230 volts) and own the property (house or building).
  • The Solar Inverter is supplied by the Electricity Utility company (SMA SunnyBoy 1200).
  • Subsidy of 30% of system cost (with a max of 3000Dinars / 1500 EUR per kW) from the ANME, and 10% of system cost subsidized by the Italian ministry of Environment (don’t ask me how or why, this deal is too weird). Total subsidy is 40% of total installed system cost.
  • The rest of the system cost, 60% are to be paid over 5 years with zero interest rate. (The interest being paid by the same italian ministry cited above).

These are the facts. The target was to install a total of  1.5MW over 1000 roofs of private and public buildings from January 2010 to June 2011. As of July 2012, applications for this program were still being accepted.

In the next couple of posts I will present the technical requirements of the PROSOL ELEC program and write my concerns and criticism of this policy.

UPDATE: I examine the technical requirements for PV modules in part II of this series.

Sources:

STEG section on PROSOL ELEC (french)

STEG site: PROSOL ELEC Brochure (french)

 STEG site: PROSOL ELEC detailed (french)

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