- Tunisia has successfully started investing in wind power, which is thought to give rapid environmental and economic benefits. Up to 100 megawatts of electricity are expected from the ongoing schemes to develop the country's new environmentally sound power source.
- Tunisia will harvest the wind with modern turbine windmills to generate 100 megawatts of electricity that will cut greenhouse gas emissions, foster private investment and create new jobs, the UN development agency UNDP noted optimistically today.
According to Patrice Ariel Français, UNDP's Resident Representative in Tunis, this is a good investment. "The Global Environment Facility (GEF) estimates that its US$ 10.5 million funding for the initiative will multiply tenfold through US$ 106 million in private investment, thus enabling construction of large, environmentally friendly wind farms on a scale rarely seen in developing countries," Mr Français commented today.
UNDP says it is to implement this project together with Tunisian government agencies as partners. The clean power generated, to flow into the country's existing electricity grid, "will contribute to reducing global climate change," the UN agency says.
Also the Tunisian government is seeing the development of a wind power sector as a positive incentive, which will lessen the country's dependence on imported power. Supporting the programme, Tunis authorities have pledged up to US$ 18 million in fiscal incentives and subsidies.
Further, the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) is providing one million euros (US$ 1.26 million) in co-financing for technical assistance to help prepare local industries supply equipment and services for the wind farms, including manufacturing electrical and other equipment and civil engineering work. Germany is a major producer of wind power technology.
Finally, the goal is to have local companies provide at least 40 percent of the inputs. This would also give national ownership to the new sector and create new knowledge centres in the country.
According to UNDP, the project is also set to strengthen the capacity of partner agencies involved in wind power development, including the National Renewable Energy Agency (ANER), the Independent Power Production Office, the Tunisian Electricity and Gas Company (STEG), the National Directorate of Energy (DGE) and the Ministry of Energy.
- The government and private entrepreneurs are showing great interest in development of the wind sector," Ezzedine Khalfallah, General Director of ANER told UNDP Tunisia. "Wind technology is becoming as competitive as conventional power stations, and will grow more so as technological progress and economies of scale lower costs."
The UNDP/GEF project will "likely contribute to the development of a competitive wind market, and in particular the growth of local industry around the technology of wind turbines and their components," Mr Khalfallah further noted.
STEG opened a 10 megawatt wind farm in Cap Bon in the north in 2001 and doubled its size in 2003. Preliminary studies indicate that Tunisia has the potential to generate more than 1,000 megawatts from wind energy, according to UNDP.
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