TuNur developer not phased by recent Desertec fallout

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TuNur, a 2GW concentrated solar power (CSP) project along the same lines as the original Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) plan, said the idea for Middle Eastern and North African solar exportation into Europe is still a valid and needed venture.

“From the European perspective, there is a huge energy demand,” said Daniel Rich, a director of TuNur. “It’s not just about countries meeting renewable energy targets, it’s about countries securing a long-term energy supply.”

Desertec’s chief executive Paul von Son explained the lack of interest from former-shareholders to develop in the MENA region as reason for Desertec’s recent “adapted” project, which no longer includes the export of energy from MENA to Europe, but Rich said this is not the case for TuNur and other companies such as Deutsche Bank and Munich RE.

“A lot of companies have come back and said it’s not that they don’t believe in the mission, they just didn’t necessarily want to be part of that initiative,” said Rich.

Rich said it is still very beneficial to develop CSP in the MENA region, not only because of the influx of regional jobs that would come about as a result the project, but also because of the financial benefits that would arise from developing in Tunisia, TuNur’s sited location for the project.

“You can get significant cost reductions by doing so, and that’s been proven by the low bids that have come out of Morocco these past few years and months and they are much lower than anywhere else in the world,” said Rich.

According to Rich, TuNur’s CSP project would be increasingly valuable because of its energy storage ability that can provide dispatchable energy unlike PV or wind.

“There is actually a huge requirement for base-load or dispatchable renewable power and CSP with storage is one of the few technologies, if not the only technology, that can provide that at this scale,” said Rich.

Yesterday PV Tech reported TuNur plans to apply for British subsidies through contracts for difference (CfDs), which have only recently been confirmed as open to foreign-based projects. The BBC reported that some British-based companies, such as Solarcentury, now view foreign-based projects like TuNur as “unwelcomed competition”.

Although the estimated energy output of the project is enough power to light 2.5 million UK homes, Rich said TuNur would only be another part of the energy mix and would not deter any UK-based companies from developing projects for the UK.

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