Tunisian Market Growing Rapidly

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. But Imed Landoulsi, responsible for Prosol at the country's national energy agency, the Agence Nationale pour la Maitrise de l´Energie (ANME), is certain that market growth will exceed expectations: “Market development has been extremely dynamic in nature. I think we will sell 90,000 m2 of collector area this year,“ Landoulsi explains. As part of the government, ANME is responsible for the development of the renewable energy sector and carrying out the grant programme Prosol II. Until now, the domestic market has been the dominant one. Customers that buy solar water heaters with a 200 litre capacity will receive a subsidy of TND 200 (TND = Tunisian Dollar = Dinar). Solar water heaters with a 300 litre capacity will be subsidised with TND 400. By comparison: Costs for thermosiphon systems with 200 litre add up to around TND 1,200. But Prosol II also provides generous support for larger community or commercial systems. Landoulsi hopes that the first of their kind will start operating this year. Their proprietors will receive up to TND 5,000 for project planning and up to 20 % as investment subsidies out of national and up to 20 % as investment subsidies out of international funds. A subsidy situation such as this one, in which long-term support is guaranteed, attracts naturally a lot of companies within the solar industry. While 8 businesses offered solar thermal systems in Tunisia in 2004 – among them two manufacturers – there are now over 20, including six manufacturers of such systems. Soften (Société Franco-Tunisienne d´Energie Nouvelle) has been the market leader since 1985. The French manufacturer Giordano Industries has invested in it. A newcomer is the company Soltech, which started production of collectors and thermal stores in Tunisia just this year. Its investor, the entrepreneur Moustafa Cinar, lives in Germany and expresses his disappointment about bureaucratic hurdles: “We have waited for the acknowledgement by ANME for months. Stocks are full and we are not able to sell. Each day you have another problem on your hands.“ Landoulsi cannot understand that. In his opinion, registering a new vendor for Prosol II takes only about two months if the vendor possesses certificates by EN12975 or Solar Keymark. “Right now, we receive a new enquiry every month,“ Landoulsi describes the great interest in the solar thermal industry. All companies admitted to Prosol II will have an allocated budget for the consecutive year, depending on how many systems they want to sell. They will then finalise the contract with the government with regard to that total. Further information: www.anme.nat.tn/index.asp?pId=244 www.giordano-industries.com


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