Tunisian energy sector at crossroads

Article Summary
As Tunisia faces severe challenges in the energy sector, it must work to ensure that its programs are effective and reach all regions of the country.

Certainly, the implementation of energy management programs in Tunisia yielded tangible results, in particular the decoupling of energy consumption and economic growth and the 25% decrease in energy intensity during the past two decades. However, an appropriate action plan could allow a 16-million-ton oil equivalent reduction in energy consumption. This would also lead to a drop of 44 million tons in greenhouse gas emissions.

It must be said that the financial crisis ensuing from the energy situation is so acute and urgent that it is imperative to exert all efforts to reach the much desired balance, and, why not, regain the former energy surplus.

It goes without saying that maintaining current energy consumption trends can only lead to increased demand. According to a study by the concerned departments with the Ministry of Industry, everything indicates that Tunisia will face major energy challenges or even risks during the coming decade. These risks are the limitation of domestic energy resources, the scarcity of energy resources on the international market, the price rise on the international market, the increase in financing needs of investments in terms of production capacity and energy transformation and additional environmental requirements. Added to these risks is the current post-revolutionary and transitional context that bears new requirements in terms of transparency and in preparing the public opinion by explaining the energy choices to an increasingly aware civil society.

Achieving these objectives will not be easy. Competent authorities are required to further develop the country’s energy resources by intensifying exploration production activities for the renewal of reserves, the development of renewable energies — particularly wind and solar energies — and the management of energy consumption through more ambitious programs for energy efficiency and rationalization.

Prospects extend to the medium and long term. The Ministry of Industry and Technology intends on conducting a study on the strategic vision of the Tunisian energy sector. Seminars for discussing the future of energy in Tunisia were held to explore potential orientations for understanding the energy mix that best suits the country during the next quarter century.

The discussions are based on various related strategic studies and take into consideration the new regional and global socioeconomic context of the international energy environment as well as the expected challenges. However, some strategic orientations seem obvious and based on four main axes, namely: resources and infrastructure, employment and regional development, sector reorganization and regional cooperation.

Concerning renewable energy incentives, the Tunisian Solar Plan could be decisive insofar as wind and solar energies will provide an additional capacity of 480 megawatts as of 2016, thus raising the share of renewable energy to 11% out of the total electricity generation. This means that Tunisia should reposition its Solar Plan, reframe it and refocus it on some pivotal projects to make it one of the innovative axes of a more equitable cooperation between the south and the north, thus stimulating a new economic dynamic in the southern regions of the country.

In any case, the country seems to be doubling its efforts to make the necessary change in the very vital energy sector. Indeed, the National Agency for Energy Management (ANME) conducted a study on “rational use of energy in Tunisia” to meet the energy challenges lying ahead in the coming years and decades. The study focuses on assessing energy rationalization programs implemented in the past, studying potential energy savings that could be mobilized over the 2013-2030 period and drawing up an action plan for the 2013-2020 period. The plan will certainly be ambitious but requires careful monitoring for its optimal implementation.

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Found in: tunisia, solar energy, energy, economy, civil society
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