Tunisia-based TuNur filed a request in June to export 4.5 gigawatts (GW) solar energy to Europe. This would be enough to power 5 million homes or 7 million electric cars. TuNur is a JV between Nur Energie, a UK-based solar specialist, and a group of Tunisian and Maltese energy investors. The work on the project is moving fast and by 2020 it will link the TuNur solar plant in Tunisia with Malta, at an estimated cost of around €1.6 billion. Tunisia is already linked to the European mainland through 100 kilometre of undersea power line that lands in Sicily, Italy. This leaves the first leg of around 500 km, plus the overland extension requiring a connection, using an ultra-high voltage direct-current link. A second cable system will link Tunisia to central Italy, with a shoring point north of Rome. The work on this project has been under development for several years. This link will form part of the EU’s Project of Common Interest plan, which funds infrastructure developments benefitting EU as a whole. A third cable will link Tunisia directly to the south of France and the feasibility study for this is currently underway. The project will bring in more than $5 billion investment into Tunisia.
TuNur is located in the area of Réjim Maâtoug in the Kébili Governorate, which is situated in the Sahara Desert in the south-western part of the country. The dream to turn the sun-drenched Middle East and North Africa (Mena) into Europe’s giant solar farm may finally become a reality. A dream that has refused to die even after decades of falling off-track due to various geo-political problems and in-fighting between MENA members nations.