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African Solar Energy Could Power United Kingdom Homes by 2018

_78360618_tunurrender_powerblock(1)Investors are seeking funding from the United Kingdom government for an ambitious plan to import solar energy generated in North Africa.

Under the plan, up to 2.5 million U.K. homes could be powered by Tunisian sunshine by 2018.

The company involved says they have already spent 10 million euros developing the site.

A number of overseas energy producers are competing to bring green energy to the U.K.

The TuNur project aims to bring two gigawatts of solar power to the U.K. from Tunisia if the company wins a contract for difference (CFD) from the British government.

Under new rules published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change in the summer, the government will allow developers of renewable energy projects that are not based in the U.K. to bid for contracts that guarantee subsidies to supply power.

TuNur, which is a partnership between British renewables investor Low Carbon, developer Nur Energie, and Tunisian investors, says it has already spent 10 million euros developing the site in the southern area of the country.

The company has gathered three years of solar data from the location, which it says has been independently verified.

Legislation has also been passed in the Tunisian parliament to facilitate the export of the energy, and an agreement has been reached with the Italian network operator to connect a dedicated undersea cable to a substation near Rome.

“This is not a back-of-the-envelope fantasy,” Kevin Sara, chief executive of TuNur told BBC News.

“We are working with some of the largest engineering firms in the world. This is a serious project. Yes, it is risky like any big energy project is risky.

“But there is nothing new about moving energy from North Africa to Europe.”

The company argues that existing gas pipelines from Algeria that run through Tunisia have operated without a glitch through the turbulence that has followed on from the Arab Spring.

Their plans involve using concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. This allows the developers to store some of the energy generated so that the supply is “dispatchable.” It can be switched on or off on demand.

The company involved says its electricity supplies will be secure, and 20 percent cheaper than home-grown sources, such as offshore wind.



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