New doubts emerge regarding the Solar 1,000 MW project

Algeria has embarked on an ambitious program for the realization of the 1,000 MW solar energy production project.

The call for tenders for the realization of this project called “Solar 1000 MW” was launched in December 2021 by the Ministry of Energy Transition and Renewable Energies.

The first photovoltaic kilowatt hours of the project will be produced towards the end of 2023, indicated on July 10 to the APS, the director general of the Algerian company of renewable energies “Shaems”, Smaïl Mougari.

A deadline that does not seem to convince Tewfik Hasni. “You have at least a year to tie up the whole project and a year for construction. It is therefore not the end of 2023 but at the earliest the end of 2024 for a rational project not in the current form”, estimates the expert, contacted by TSA.

According to the energy transition consultant, there are conditions for the realization of such a project. The first is to clarify the place of the private sector in this program.

“It’s a point that remains confused: one day we are told it’s the private sector, another we say that the state will finance”, notes Mr. Hasni. “It’s not always the state that invests. The private sector must also be able to find a favorable environment to invest,” points out the expert.

“You can’t force an investor to take a risk based on information you have given them,” stresses Mr. Hasni.

According to him, before the investor commits, he must assess the solar potential to then be able to embark on a project. “Solar, you have to measure it all year round because it varies,” he notes.

The consultant also criticizes the fact of imposing a specific site on an industrialist. “It is the investor who chooses the optimal site for him. Secondly, neither can industrial integration be imposed on it. It’s billions of dollars. You impose on it the conditions that you have set and this in a rather difficult situation at the moment which is marked by a lack of financing throughout the world. How do you expect investors to respond to your call for tenders? asks Tewfik Hasni.

The second condition mentioned by Mr. Hasni relates to the need for “the implementing texts concerning the new law on investment to be very clear and that they correspond to the wishes of private foreign investors” in Algeria.

Third condition: “the regulations must be frozen, we can no longer accept changes in the regulations”. “Who will take the risk if your regulation remains random? These are the conditions that have blocked all investment in general. And which will mean that the project will not see the light of day if we do not give a certain transparency, ”he decides.

As a fourth condition, Tewfik Hasni calls for a reform of the Algerian financial system “so that it adapts to these major changes imposed on us by the economic, health and political crises in the world, and which will direct investments towards the places that will be more attractive”.

Clear conclusion from Tewfik Hasni: “We are far from all these conditions”. “And if we don’t settle this, we can only be pessimistic about any project, whether it is 1000 MW or otherwise,” added the consultant.

“Oil lobbies are hampering the development of renewable energies”

Tewfik Hasni refutes the idea that photovoltaics could be the dominant way to ensure Algeria’s energy security. Instead, it relies on solar thermal.

“Photovoltaics can only represent 20% of an entire global project that will integrate 80% solar thermal. This is not a theory. All the projects that are launched in the Gulf region, in Africa, in the United States, are based on this principle, because it allows us to eliminate the intermittency of photovoltaics which does not produce (energy) only during the day, while energy security requires us to have 24-hour coverage,” explains Mr. Hasni, who cites another argument that solar thermal can be stored.

Tewfik Hasni accuses the oil lobbies of hampering the development of renewable energies (Enr) and the implementation of the energy transition in the world.

“They stopped all the decisions of COP26. They even put the coal back in the saddle,” he says. A trend to which Algeria is no exception, according to Tewfik Hasni. “The results are there: we did not exceed 1% of what we had planned to achieve. However, energy security does not depend on photovoltaics alone. On the other hand, we are told that solar-thermal will not pass. Why ? We haven’t been given any evidence.”

The other “stratagem” used by the oil lobby to block the energy transition consists in pleading that hydrogen is the solution, further charges Mr. Hasni.

This amounts to doing the business of oil supporters since, the expert specifies, hydrogen is produced from hydrocarbons, to the great dismay of climate defenders.

“With us, the Ministry of Energy Transition has set itself the objective of moving towards hydrogen when it is a decoy. Hydrogen is actually used to replace natural gas,” says Hasni.

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