Renewable Energy in Tunisia: an overview of recent developments (2017)

The history of the regulatory framework for the renewables sector in Tunisia dates to the creation of the country’s national electric company, la Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG), by decree in 1962, and later to the creation of l’Agence Nationale pour la Maîtrise de l’Energie (ANME) in 1985.

ANME, now a public entity under the supervision of the Ministry of Industry responsible for energy policy management and the promotion of renewable energy sources, saw its specific mission, organization, and functions modified by laws n°2000-1124 and n°2004-795 in May 2000 and March 2004 respectively. The latter followed on the heels of the country’s first energy efficiency law (n°2004-72 of August 2004). Echoing national emphasis on environmental concerns following Tunisia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in the year prior, this law declared the development of renewable energy sources a national priority and authorized certain bodies to sell electricity produced through co-generation to STEG1. This significantly weakened STEG’s monopoly on production in the country, a process that formally began with law n°1996-27 nearly eight years earlier. The applicable legal framework for renewable energy production was later amended by law n°2009-7 in February 2009, which expanded the range of producers eligible for authorization and specified the mechanism by which STEG would purchase from said producers.

Tunisia adopted in 2005 a project development strategy in line with the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)2 – the first renewable energy action plan. In coordination with the United Nations Environment Program, STEG and ANME launched the PROSOL residential solar water heater incentive program that same year3. The implementation of the Tunisian Solar Plan in 2009, the third of four (to date) renewable energy action plans dating back to 2005, laid out new renewable capacity targets for the period 2010-2016 in light of the newly adopted amendment to the law on energy conservation (n°2009-7). These targets included a total production capacity from renewables of 4700 MW by 2030, including 1000 MW by 2016. The announcement of the Renewable Energy Action Plan 2030 in November 2016 later modified these targets (see “Regulatory Framework” below).

Considered to be perhaps the most important source of renewable electricity production in Tunisia, wind projects have also been developed in the country since the early 2000’s. STEG began its three-stage production of the 54MW Sidi Daoud wind farm in 2000 and completed the project in 2009. Three years later, the 190 MW4 Bizerte wind farm came online.

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