DESERTEC Foundation: 2 Gigawatt TuNur Project (extended version)

Uploaded by DESERTECChannel on 18.12.2012

In the sands of North Africa, plans are underway to launch an ambitious solar energy project
that will become a benchmark for meeting the world’s future energy needs.
In Frankfurt, Germany, in January 2012, the Desertec Foundation announced its support
of the project to the German press.
The Foundation’s group of volunteers from civil society were on hand,
alongside Foundation supporters and representatives of NurEnergie,
a developer and operator of solar power plants.
Together, they unveiled to the public their collaboration that will realise
the visionary renewable energy project known as “TuNur”, that will harness the power of the Tunisian sun.
While fielding questions from journalists, the group assembled by the DESERTEC Foundation
detailed the logistical, technical and even political aspects that will unite to create TuNur.
Together, this group presented their vision of a sustainable future that begins today
with a tangible and attainable endeavour.
The DESERTEC Concept is a comprehensive solution. That means the future energy supply will be a combination of
of different renewable energies: solar photovoltaic, concentrating solar thermal power (CSP),
wind, hydropower, geothermal and so on. We must ensure that this mixed energy supply
and power production is reliable and sustainable. One of the key concerns of the DESERTEC Foundation
is how we can use the impressive developments in wind and photovoltaic to provide
a secure energy supply in the long term.
One of the technical possibilities for doing so is a big expansion of concentrating solar thermal power capacity
with thermal storage, which enables the delivery of power day and night.
Therefore, it is clearly not a question of supplying either Europe or North Africa with clean power
but rather meeting a percentage of the future energy demand of Europe
and a big percentage of the future energy demand of North Africa through CSP and other technologies.
We are presenting just such a project to you today.
The DESERTEC Foundation is lending its support to Nur Energie and its Tunisian partners
led by Top Group to realize a future powered by clean energies that begins in the Saharan deserts of Tunisia.
Using thousands of mirrors to track and direct the heat of the Tunisian sun
to generate electricity, the "TuNur" Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (CSP) plant
will ultimately produce 2 Gigawatts of electricity, roughly double the average nuclear power plant.
By building a low-loss transmission line to Italy, TuNur can deliver enough electricity to power
approximately 700 000 European homes.
Testimony to the potential of African-based CSP power plants for European markets.
And with none of the carbon and toxic emissions produced through conventional energy sources,
the TuNur plant provides a viable and progressive blueprint for the energy production of the future.
The TuNur project of Nur Energie and its partners in Tunisia is an excellent example
of the realization of the DESERTEC Concept.
The project has been evaluated by an independent team of experts and, based on the review of the
development so far, the project fulfills the criteria of the DESERTEC Concept.
That means solar energy is used to produce power on a large-scale day and night; the plant is connected
to a grid that links North Africa to Europe; and it supports local economic development in Tunisia.
That's why the DESERTEC Foundation endorses the TuNur project.
Soon both Europe and Tunisia will enjoy the benefits of this exciting collaboration.
Construction of TuNur in southern Tunisia should begin in 2014. According to the plans of project
developer Nur Energie, the plant and the transmission line will be operational by 2016.
With this important first step, we are showing governments, industries, and consumers
that what many thought to be science fiction is actually science fact.
The concentrating solar power project in Tunisia will use state of the art technologies that
actually use very simple processes that will make use of the sun's energy that surrounds us every day.
Effectively, we use glass, steel and water.
No toxic by-products, no emissions, no carbon footprint. Natural production on an industrial scale.
TuNur's array of mirrors will track and reflect the sun's rays on to a boiler atop a central tower.
When the concentrated sunlight strikes the boiler's pipes, it heats the water inside
to 550 degrees Celsius. The steam produced by the heated water is piped from the boiler
to a turbine where electricity is generated.
From here, transmission lines will carry the power all the way to Italy.
Meanwhile, in order to conserve precious desert water, air cooling is used to convert the steam back into water.
The water is then returned to the boiler in a closed, continuous loop.
What will make the TuNur solar power plant so valuable and attractive for consumers is
it's ability to deliver dispatchable energy.
With heat storage systems using molten salts, we generate heat from sunshine during the day
that ensures electricity production even when the sun is no longer shining.
With the TuNur project, we literally harvest and store the day's thermal energy
for electricity production after sunset.
Connecting the southern and northern Mediterranean coasts, a new underwater
power cable will link the African and European continents. The 600 kilometer high-voltage
direct current cable will be lain across the Mediterranean seabed to transmit
electricity from Tunisia into the Italian grid and onward into Europe.
With construction of the cable coordinated with that of the power plant itself,
electricity can be expected to flow from Tunisia to Europe by 2016.
As the impact of the Arab Spring continues to unfold, Tunisia is now among the first
North African nations to enjoy newfound freedoms and opportunities.
Having already experienced free and democratic elections, the country can move forward
with new and needed development projects. The TuNur project will not only benefit European
energy consumers, it will also bring many socio- economic benefits to Tunisia and its people.
This collaboration is not only between Nur Energie and the DESERTEC Foundation
but also between peoples and nations, spanning two continents and many cultures.
It's a true exchange between peoples one that benefits everyone and every nation involved.
DESERTEC and Nur Energie anticipate that 60% of TuNur's construction costs will be spent within Tunisia itself.
This investment will directly benefit the local economy and create lasting jobs
for the Tunisians involved in the operating of the power plant.
TuNur will benefit Tunisia by creating jobs and investing in local education to aid the long-term
management of the plant after 2016.
Proper investment and job creation not simple charity can help alleviate the
poverty and corruption that triggered the Arab Spring.
What Tunisia now requires are clear opportunities for its young population to fulfill their rights,
their jobs, democracy, and a path to prosperity.
DESERTEC can really help support this vision and with the TuNur project we are trying to take
a first concrete step in this direction.
We're used to the long distance transport of dirty, exhaustible fuels like oil and gas with all the
problems that brings in terms of pollution.
Now, with the TuNur project, we are actually exporting energy that is clean, never runs out, and leaves a
sustainable legacy for a country like Tunisia.
TuNur is going to be the blueprint for things to come.
It's a benchmark for other governments, companies, and individuals to point to and say:
"Solar energy exports from North Africa to Europe?
That can be done! It's worthwhile and the DESERTEC vision can be realized."
DESERTEC is setting the benchmark for future international renewable energy projects in terms of
economical, ecological, and social sustainability.
All the major political, financial, and scientific challenges surrounding solar power are being addressed.
Together with Nur Energie, the DESERTEC Foundation is successfully
proposing how to create solutions for our most urgent challenges: energy and climate security.
You said that the TuNur project fulfils DESERTEC criteria. Could you explain a little bit more about how you see
the relationship between DESERTEC and TuNur and how you are contributing to the project?
We are a non-profit organisation supported by private donations so we can’t put any money in.
However, our strength is that we are independent come from civil society and thus have a healthy dialogue
with and are accepted by all parts of society. There are two things we can do.
The first is the assessment and evaluation of this project. We can take the DESERTEC criteria to see
how it relates to our criteria for power production, for socio-economic relevance in terms of economic
opportunities in Tunisia, for environmental sustainability.
The other thing has to do with communication, which is one of the major activities of the foundation.
It is one of our major responsibilities to show that there are concrete, readily-deployable solutions for the global transition
to renewable energy and to make this tangible and credible through model pilot projects.
We see this project as a wonderful model pilot project for the many other power plants
that will come to look at to see how it can work.
It is important to state that as part of our agreement there will be a yearly report and a yearly re-evaluation
to see where we are in the implementation of the project and to see if it still expresses the DESERTEC criteria.
We’re implementing the project and we want to operate with proper transparency and naturally we also want to build trust.
We see the DESERTEC Foundation as an important partner because it is independent and because,
having already carried out important studies, it has a respected name.
The population of the Middle East and North Africa will grow by around 300 million people by 2050.
Around 300 million people live there now so the population will double by this date.
And if you live in the desert and know how little living space there is and how hard it is to live there
then the prospect of finding space and resources for an additional 300 million people in a region
where in some places water and energy and arable land are already overstretched is a worrying one.
Ultimately, to make space for these people you will need energy, water, jobs, prospects, and development and
of course for economic development you also need industrialisation.
All of this can be achieved by harnessing the solar energy that is there in abundance in the region’s deserts.
For example, by desalinating seawater. The World Bank is beginning to support the construction of such projects.
I imagine that this is a vision that we will also advance further through science.
This project is a concrete beginning and and I can only wish everyone involved luck. It is great.
There are still a lot of questions left to answer in terms of the technical details, the political environment
and the financial frameworks but these are all things that can be solved if we try.
It is a great start and chance to achieve something.
With TuNur, the DESERTEC Foundation's advocacy for a sustainable future created through comprehensive
solutions for energy production has reached a major milestone.
In so doing, the global movement for a transition to a sustainable future has taken a step forward.