A number of renewable energy developers are interested in building a huge solar power plant on the edge of the Sahara desert which will bring clean energy to 5 million European homes through undersea cables. The project called TuNur hopes to make use of the desert’s untapped potential to provide solar power. The consortium of the energy companies has applied for permission from the Tunisian energy ministry to build the facility in the southwest of the country that will produce 4.5GW of power.
CEO Kevin Sara said that an initial 250MW could be operational by 2020, bringing an extra 1,000GWh of clean power a year to the European grid. Italy and Malta have been connected via a 95km link since 2015. Already the initial phase of development would cost an estimated €1.6bn. In its final phase, the plan will become one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world. TuNur is planning to make the best use of abundant Tunisian sunshine and large amount of land that is unsuitable for agriculture. The more ambitious version of this scheme includes a solar facility covering 25,000 hectares, an area of nearly the size of Malta.
The second stage of the project is to build Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) towers with a capacity of 2.25GW, which would be connected to Italy through a 600 km cable that would deliver 9,000GWh per year. This second cable has been under development for many years and is currently being considered as a project of common interest by the EU. A third cable that will connect Tunisia with France and more towers that would bring capacity up to 4.5GW are also being planned.