International Conference on Tunisian Solar Plan

As instructed by President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi chaired the opening of the International Conference on the Tunisian Solar Plan, with attendance of several Government members, representatives from several sisterly and friendly countries, financing structures and energy-field active associations.

The prime minister said, on the occasion, that energy is a strategic field and one of the basic foundations of economic and social progress, pointing up Tunisia’s keenness to achieve energy security as part of a prospective vision aimed to guarantee all conditions of sustainable development.

He recalled that, up to the end of 2009, 54 oil prospection permits had been granted, against 41 in 2005. The number of oil wells scheduled for the current year reached 30 against 14 in 2005, companies operating in the sector rose from 46 to 62, and 30 new discoveries have been made between 2005 and 2010, which helped improve the national hydrocarbons resources.

Mr. Ghannouchi specified that the hoped-for objective consists in reaching 10 million tonnes in 2014, thanks to the exploitation of gas fields, to be developed according to the Presidential Programme “Together We Meet Challenges.”

The prime minister pointed out that positive results had been achieved between 2004 and 2009: energy consumption increased by 1.7% a year, standing at 2.5 points of GDP’s growth, which helped bring down the energy density indicator and save 12% (1.1 million tonnes) in primary energy.

He said that the energy efficiency indicator, which currently amounts to 300 kilogrammes of oil equivalent (KEP) per one-thousand-dinar GDP’s production, exceeds the level recorded by the Co-operation and Economic Development Organisation’s Countries. The goal for 2016 is, thus, to reduce this indicator to 275 KEP/1000 Dinars.

The prime minister stressed the need to prepare for the post-oil era, recalling that Tunisia had devised in the past period a complementary programme to promote alternative and renewable energies.

He reviewed the ambitious objectives which consist in increasing electricity production from renewable energies from 55 megawatts in 2009, to 144  MW by the end of the current year, and to 1000 MW in 2016, i.e. the equivalent of 16% of electric energy.

Mr. Ghannouchi specified that studies had been conducted on the potential to exploit wind power, solar energy and organic energies, estimated in this stage, at 4,700 megawatts, including 1,700 MW of photovoltaic and Concentrating Solar Power, and 1,800 MW of wind energy.

He said that Tunisia currently counts 8 higher-training establishments in specialties which meet the country’s future needs.

The prime minister highlighted that the adopted strategy relies also on developing scientific research, as testified to, by the will to make of the Borj Cedria park one specialised in research in renewable energies development, in collaboration with Japan and the European Union.

He stressed that the creation in partnership with Japan of a Concentrating Solar Power centre constitutes one of the most important programmes carried out in this field.

The prime minister asserted that the expertise acquired in matters of renewable energies development would help Tunisia join international initiatives, such as the European initiatives “Desertec” and “Transgreen,” and the Japanese “Sahara Solar Breeder” (SSB).

Mr. Ghannouchi pointed out that the signing of the Tunisian-Italian agreement to set up an electrical inter- connection between the two countries is part of this plan, reminding of the creation of a joint venture to lay out a sub- marine cable of a 1000-megawatt capacity.

The prime minister emphasised that the wind power development programme in Tunisia helped increase the energy sector’s added value by 40%.

Mr. Ghannouchi pointed up the objectives set in the Presidential Programme in this field, aiming notably to make of Tunisia a developed and eco-friendly technological platform and boost bilateral and multilateral co-operation in the fields of scientific research, technological innovation, industrialisation, training, human resources development, production and exploitation.