AfDB Organises Workshop on Concentrated Solar Power in Tunis

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Date: 21/10/2009
Location: Tunis, Tunisia

Tunis, October 12, 2009 - The African Development Bank (AfDB) is organizing the Second Consultation Workshop on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in Tunis, on October 21-22, 2009.  The event is jointly organized with the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Energy Sector Management Program (ESMAP).

CSP involves the conversion of solar radiation to thermal energy, which is then used to generate power. In terms of its commercial viability as a renewable energy option, CSP currently falls between wind power and photo-voltaic (PV) power. It is a technology ready for scale-up since it has yet to benefit from cost savings that often come with manufacturing scale.  CSP is of particular interest to utilities that see it as lower cost, more scalable and, due to the ability to store heat, more continuously available (dispatchable) than solar PV. It is also more consistent with the centralized generation model of typical utilities.  

The North Africa region is particularly promising for CSP scale-up.  It has abundant sunshine, low precipitation, and sufficient unused land close to transmission lines and to countries with a large demand for power.

A gigawatt-scale generation program would offer a number of benefits for the countries of the region, including:

  • Address rising energy demand, driven by urbanization and rising incomes, in the region
  • Facilitate green energy trade between countries; enhance energy security and support regional integration initiatives around the Mediterranean and Gulf region
  • Generate economic benefits: green jobs, diversification of fuel sources etc.; and
  • Provide local as well as global environmental benefits.

The CSP scale-up program would also establish the region as a pioneer among emerging economies in the global solar power industry's development through economies of scale, and the technology becoming cost-effective for wider replication.
In the region, projects of about 20 MW in size are currently under implementation in Morocco, Egypt and Algeria. These use the Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) configuration, where solar energy augments the heat from the gas turbine plant.  High initial capital costs are a barrier for wide adoption of this technology.  

On 11-12 June 2009, the World Bank and African Development Bank held a joint consultation workshop in Rabat, Morocco to investigate options for scaling up, development, and construction of several CSP plants in the region.  This Second Consultation Workshop is therefore a follow-up to the first workshop held in Rabat.