New doubts about the 1,000 MW solar project
Algeria has started an ambitious program to realize the production project of 1,000 MW of solar energy.
The tender 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 project’s first photovoltaic kilowatt-hours will be produced towards the end of 2023, the general manager of Algerian renewable energy company Shaems, Smaïl Mougari, told APS on July 10.
An appointment that does not seem to convince Tewfik Hasni. “You have at least a year to tie up the entire project and a year to build. For a reasonable project in its current form, it is therefore not the end of 2023, but at the end of 2024 at the earliest,” estimates the expert contacted by TSA.
According to the energy transition consultant, there are prerequisites for the realization of such a project. The first is to clarify the place of the private sector in this program.
“It’s an issue that remains confused: one day we’re told it’s the private sector, another we say the state is funding,” notes Mr. Hasni. “It is not always the state that invests. The private sector must also find a favorable investment environment,” emphasizes the expert.
“You cannot force an investor to take a risk based on information you have given them,” stresses Mr. Hasni.
According to him, before committing, the investor must evaluate the solar potential in order to then start a project. “Solar has to be measured year-round because it fluctuates,” he notes.
The consultant also criticizes forcing a certain location on an industrialist. “It is the investor who selects the optimal location for him. Secondly, it cannot be forced into industrial integration either. It’s billions of dollars. You are giving it the conditions that you have set, and that in what is currently a very difficult situation, which is characterized by a global shortage of financing. How do you expect investors to respond to your tender? asks Tewfik Hasni.
The second condition mentioned by Mr. Hasni relates to the need that “the transposition texts of the new investment law are very clear and correspond to the wishes of foreign private investors” in Algeria.
Third condition: “The regulations must be frozen, we can no longer accept changes to the regulations”. “Who will take the risk if your regulation remains arbitrary? These are the conditions that have blocked all investments in general. And which will result in the project not seeing the light of day if we don’t give some 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 that are being imposed on us by the economic, health and political crisis in the world and directs investments to the places where the fall is to be more attractive”.
Clear conclusion from Tewfik Hasni: “We are a long way from all these conditions”. “And if we don’t clarify that, we can only be pessimistic about any project, whether it’s 1000 MW or others,” added the consultant.
“Oil lobbies are hindering the expansion of renewable energies”
Tewfik Hasni refutes the notion that photovoltaics could be the dominant way to ensure Algeria’s energy security. Instead, it uses solar thermal energy.
“Photovoltaic can only represent 20% of an entire global project that will integrate 80% solar thermal. This isn’t a theory. All projects launched in the Gulf region, Africa and the United States are based on this principle, since it allows us to eliminate the interruptions of photovoltaics, which does not produce (energy) only during the day, while ensuring energy security requires 24-hour coverage from us,” explains Mr. Hasni, who provides another argument for solar thermal energy being stored.
Tewfik Hasni accuses the oil lobbies of slowing down the expansion of renewable energies (Enr) and the implementation of the energy transition worldwide.
“They stopped all decisions of the COP26. They even put the money back in the saddle,” he says. A trend that Algeria is no exception to, according to Tewfik Hasni. “The results are there: we achieved no more than 1% of what we set out to do. However, energy security does not depend solely on photovoltaics. On the other hand, we’re being told that solar thermal won’t pull through. Why ? We haven’t received any evidence.”
Hasni further accuses the other “stratagem” used by the oil lobby to block the energy transition by advocating hydrogen as a solution.
Which amounts to oil producers’ business, since, according to the expert, hydrogen is produced from hydrocarbons, much to the dismay of climate protectors.
“The Ministry of Energy Transition has set a goal with us to move towards hydrogen if it is a decoy. Hydrogen is actually being used to replace natural gas,” says Hasni.