Solar power from the searing sands of Tunisia to your home in the UK. Who said the Sahara was a desert?
In the vast land of the Tunisian Sahara Desert, a 36 square mile plot of land in the region known as Rjim Maatoug could be the answer to securing a new source of power for the UK/Europe, replacing the coal- and gas-burning plants which threaten our environment, cheaper and more reliable than nuclear power.
A joint development effort by London-based solar developer Nur Energie and local Tunisian and Maltese investors, the TuNur Project will ultimately export solar energy from the Sahara to Europe, including the United Kingdom.
According to Nur Engerie’s president, Kevin Sara, “This project is ultimately about about opening up a new energy corridor to import cheap solar power from the deserts of Africa allowing us to displace damaging fossil fuels, ‘decarbonising’ our electricity system and bringing high quality long-term jobs to both Europe and Africa.”
As planned, the project encompasses three schemes in one; a 2,250MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the Tunisian desert, a high-voltage DC submarine cable to transport power from Tunisia to Italy and the sale and distribution of electricity to the EU energy market.
Solar Power Solar Radiation
The TuNur project will use the already existing CSP technology to harness solar radiation that can also be stored as thermal energy perhaps delivering power to the UK by late 2020. The game-changer in the programme is the thermal-storage technology. This allows low-cost power storage so the plant can keep generating electricity after sundown. Unlike solar panels or wind power, CSP provides solid “base-load” electricity that can replace coal, gas and nuclear power plants.
This may all sound like a bit of a grand experiment, but if the TuNur project delivers, it will be the first of its kind demonstrating the technical feasibility and economic competitiveness of bringing solar power from North Africa to Europe.
“We have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s [TuNur Solar power] cheaper than nuclear with none of the scary waste disposal problems or security risks.” said Sara.
The backers insist the project is scalable and will allow Europe to replace fossil fuels and nuclear power with environmentally friendly solar energy from a region with loads of available land where solar power can be produced more cheaply than anywhere in Europe. ML