DESERTEC Foundation and Nur Energie launch 2GW solar project in Tunisia

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In accordance with the DESERTEC Foundation’s solar plans in Tunisia, project developer, Nur Energie, has partnered with Top Oilfield Services to construct TuNur CSP plants. The plants are expected to eventually produce 2GW – roughly double the average nuclear power plant.

The first phase of this project is expected to begin in 2014, with electricity exports reaching Europe by 2016, via a low-loss transmission line to Italy, claims Nur Energie. It has been designed to reduce water requirements to a bare minimum by using a dry, air-based cooling system.

Kevin Sara, CEO, Nur Energie, said, “TuNur is going to be the blueprint for things to come. It is a pioneering project that other governments, companies and individuals can point to and say, “Solar energy export from North Africa to Europe is possible, it’s worthwhile and the DESERTEC vision is attainable”. We are used to transporting exhaustible fuels like oil and gas thousands of kilometers and then burning them close to our cities with all the associated pollution problems and other risks to humans and our environment. Now, with the TuNur project, we are turning away from these polluting fuels to transmit clean and inexhaustible energy from the heart of the desert to European homes whilst, at the same time, bringing jobs, economic development, and export revenue to Tunisia.”

The company is hoping to create around 20,000 new jobs for construction, operation and manufacturing. In Tunisia, space is abundant and the solar radiation is up to three times that of Central Europe. Nur Energie insists plants built in such an optimal location produces more electricity and have the potential to replace more conventional, carbon-intensive forms of power. Through TuNur, the company hopes to provide predictable power production to electricity grids with fluctuating energy sources such as PV and wind power. Using heat storage tanks, TuNur intends to produce electricity on demand day and night, delivering enough clean electricity to power approximately 700 000 European homes.

DESERTEC Foundation’s director Dr Thiemo Gropp, said, “The project has been evaluated by a team of independent experts and based on their review of the development work so far, it meets our criteria for an official DESERTEC Project. TuNur will benefit Tunisia by creating jobs and spurring investments in local education to aid the long term management of the plants after 2016. We will keep a close eye on developments to ensure the socio-economic benefits for Tunisians are maximized and that TuNur embodies the principles of the DESERTEC Concept. With this important first step, we are showing the world’s governments, industries and consumers that what many thought to be science fiction is actually science fact. We hope that this is the first of many more such plants to be built in the desert regions of the world.”

DESERTEC was founded on January 20, 2009 as a non-profit foundation that grew out of a network of scientists, politicians and economists from around the Mediterranean.

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