Finally poised to embrace renewable energy generation, little-known Algeria is accepting tender bids from solar and wind energy producers. Along with Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, which are either in the process of or are planning to build solar plants in their home countries, Algeria supports the Desertec Foundation vision to line the Sahara with solar thermal plants.
Once they are are online, part of the energy these plants generate will be evacuated to Europe via subsea cables on the Mediterranean sea floor. Each country has made commitments that make sense to them, but Algeria’s ambitions are perhaps the boldest of all.
Algeria hopes to produce 650 MW by 2015 and – get this – 22,000MW within another 15 years.
At the end of last year, the national utility company Sonelgaz reached an agreement with the Desertec Foundation to supply a chunk of that energy to Europe. But in order to come clean with that arrangement, Algeria needs to start building.
Luckily there is no shortage of solar potential in the North African country, according to ieee:
Sonelgaz estimates that in the part of the country covered by the Sahara—86 percent of the total area—there are about 3500 hours of sunshine each year. This yields an insolation rate of 2650 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year, similar to or even better than the best areas in the California deserts that dominate U.S. solar installation sites.
In 2010, Algeria produced about 2.078 million barrels of oil each day, but ieee expects that amount to drop off, which would partially explain the country’s eagerness to vamp up their energy portfolio.
Although the country (and region overall) are deeply unstable politically, the engineering arm of the national utility company CEEG began to solicit tender bids for both solar and wind energy projects.
Jordan is doing the same after a series of natural gas pipeline explosions have disrupted supplies from Egypt. It’s a hopeful trend, and one that can be sustained as technology progresses.