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Financial Close Reached for Tunisia’s Largest Solar Plant

Financial close has been reached on the planned 100-megawatt, $86Million, solar PV plant in Tunisia’s Kairouan governorate.

It is Tunisia’s first privately-financed solar project.

It will also the biggest; with around 20% of Tunisia’s renewable energy capacity.

The facility is being developed by AMEA Power, a renewable energy independent producer which is a subsidiary of the regional holding group AlNowais Investment Company, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The partners signed project launch papers on Tuesday 26 September, at the government headquarters in Al Qasba, Tunis. This initiative stands as one of Tunisia’s most impactful infrastructure projects in over a decade.

The financing close is the culmination of a four-year process. Tunisia awarded the Kairouan PV plant to a consortium that includes AMEA Power and Chinese energy solutions provider TBEA Xinjiang New Energy Company earlier in 2019. AMEA Power was then awarded a concession and power purchase agreement in March 2022, and construction on the plant was set to begin at the end of 2022.

The solar plant will benefit from up to $26Million in debt financing from the African Development Bank, including $13Million sourced from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa SEFA, a multi-donor fund that provides finance to unlock private sector investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. “The financing scheme is designed to ensure the holistic development, financing, operation, and maintenance of the plant, located roughly 150 km south of Tunis, in El Metbassta”, AfDB says in a statement.

AMEA Power expects to break ground on the project between December 2023 and January 2024, with plans to fully kick off operation on the solar farm by the summer of 2025.

The project, which will have a 120 MW peak production capacity and be built under a build, own, operate model. The project is expected to generate some 222 GWh of clean energy annually, powering some 43,000 households in the country, and offsetting an estimated 100,000 tons of CO2 annually once fully operational, the statement notes.

Through March 2022, Tunisia had about 472MW of installed renewable energy capacity, of which 244 MW was wind power, 166 MW solar power, and 62 MW of hydroelectric power, representing a combined 8% of national energy production capacity, according to International Trade Administration of the United States’ Department of Commerce.

Tunisia has set a national strategy to develop solar plants with a combined capacity of 500 MW across the country, with a target to have clean energy sources comprise 35% of its electricity mix by 2030, and its unconditional emissions reduction target to slash 27% — 35Million tons of carbon dioxide —- by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, and ultimately become carbon-neutral by 2050.

Tunisia plans to construct a 200 MW plant in Tataouine, a 100 MW plant in Gafsa, and two 50 MW plants in Tozeur and Sidi Bouzid.

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