Tunisia`s solar thermal market stabilised at 64,000 m2 in 2016, a figure only slightly lower than the 65,000 m2 in 2015 and in 2014, but significantly below the peak years of 2008 to 2010. The key market driver had again been Prosol, the national residential programme launched in 2005 and based on a financial scheme combining direct subsidies of Tunisian Dinar (TND) 200 and 300 granted by the Energy Transition Fund and low-interest loans. With 90 %, residential systems still account for the largest share in newly installed collector area. However, hotels and commercial buildings have profited from Prosol Tertiary since 2009 and contributed around 5 %.
Tunisia’s incentive and low-interest loan scheme Prosol can already celebrate its tenth anniversary next year. Since 2005, the Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas, STEG, has been managing the programme, which enables end consumers to repay a loan for a solar water heater over five years by having the instalment amount charged to their monthly STEG electricity bill. The programme was praised as an ideal showcase for the entire region, because market volume grew by more than a factor of ten in only five years. Before the start of the grant programme in 2005, Tunisia had only had an annual installation figure of 7,000 m2. In 2008, the subsidised collector area was already at 80,000 m2. But last year, market volume dropped to 53,000 m2 because of several factors listed below.
Chart: National Agency for Energy Conversation
Tunisia is venturing into another completely new solar thermal application area: solar process heat. After having started the national support programme Prosol first in 2005 for residential solar water heaters, then in 2009 for hotels, hamams (Turkish baths), academic houses and hospitals, Prosol Industry is now already the third scheme supporting solar thermal in the country. The National Fund for Energy Management, FNME, provides 30 % of the investment costs for a solar thermal process heat system, up to 75 Tunisian Dinar (TND) per m². The first step in the process was carrying out a market study, which identified 84 industrial premises and investigated their degree of commitment to using solar technology. The photo shows a successful FNME-supported installation at the Djerba Beach Hotel with 312 m² of collector area and a 15 m³ storage volume.
Tunisia’s government has extended the incentive and low-interest loan scheme PROSOL to 2016. The latest contract between the Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas, STEG, and the Tunisian Attijari Bank ensures loan repayment for solar water heater purchases between 2012 and 2016. It grants users of solar water heaters five years to pay back the loan through their monthly STEG electricity bill. The electricity bill payment is the key success factor of the financial scheme PROSOL, because it is a fairly reliable way of refinancing the thousands of loans. The chart above shows the residential collector area which profited from PROSOL subsidies and loans each year.
After three years of preparation, the first Tunisian Programme of Activities (PoAs) for solar water heating was registered successfully with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in April 2011. It is only the second African PoA focusing exclusively on solar water heaters after the “SASSA Low Pressure Solar Water Heater Programme” in South Africa, which started in March 2011. Photos: Biome Solar Industry
The “Collective Prosol Programme” in Tunisia is gaining momentum. The National Agency for Energy Conservation (ANME) started the subsidy programme for solar thermal installations in the tertiary sector back in 2008. The application rate was low at first, but 2010 became a good year for the commercial solar thermal market. At the end of that year, ANME counted a total installed and subsidised collector area of 4,000 m2, including four hotel installations with together 480 m2 and around 130 smaller installations under 30 m2. According to ANME, grants for another 1,770 m2 are still in the pipeline. And, a solar programme targeting 18 public swimming pools is also under development. The photo shows the solar installation on the Iberostar Phenicia hotel in Hammamet, at the northeast coast of Tunisia. Photo: Alcor
The economic situation in Tunisia two months after former President Ben Ali left the country is back to normal. Material supply is available without delay, the grants of the incentive programme are paid and even the demand for solar water heaters slowed down only a bit. Solarthermalworld.org spoke with Amjed Sibai, Managing Director of Sines Industries, one of the largest collector and tank manufacturers in the country, about the current business situation in Tunisia. Sines was founded in 2005 by him and his brother Ismail Sibai, who transferred the technology from their Greek partner which has been in the solar thermal market since 1976.
Will this be the future of Nefta? The Soleil de Nefta project foresees the installation of solar energy systems of about 20 MW by 2016, in order to produce hot water, solar electricity and solar cooling energy for the city of Nefta in the south-west of Tunisia. Photo: ANME
The Tunisian solar thermal market has increased tenfold in only the last four years. Before starting the grant programme Prosol II in 2005, only 7,000 m2 had been installed in Tunisia (4.9 MWth). Last year already showed installations of 60,000 m2 (42 MWth), 74 % more than in the previous year. For 2008, the official target is 80,000 m2 (56 MWth) of newly installed collector area.