May 27, 2024

Ambitious Solar Panel Production Plan in Tunisia and Algeria to Boost Europe’s Renewable Energy Imports

The Italian government has announced a new policy that seeks to increase Europe’s access to clean, cheap energy from North Africa. This step ‘will see solar panels production in Tunisia and Algeria that will enhance Europe’s renewable energy portfolio’, according to the new Italian Prime Minister Giorga Meloni.

Medlink: A Bridge to Europe's Renewable Future


Italian officials have also met with executives for the ‘Medlink’ project, which illustrates Rome’s determination to wield its political weight to make this massive effort happen. The project would build solar panel facilities in Tunisia and Algeria.

energy generated by the facilities will be transmitted to Tuscany and Liguria across undersea transmission lines This effort, according to an anonymous internal document cited by Bloomberg, formed part of the larger goal of ensuring Europe’s energy security and sustainability.

“ZHERO”, a company founded by former executives of the gas network operator “SNAM”, is pushing the project forward. Zhero has already secured more than 100 million euros ($108 million) to begin the first phase – about a fifth of what the full vision would ultimately cost.

To complete the project, the company would need to raise around 5 billion euros. This early-stage money relies, however, on the one, often hard-to-guarantee foundation of the entire scheme: future customers. If the project goes ahead, it could transform the region’s relationship with energy – and banks.

It would also usher in a new era of cooperation and technological advancement, for the economies of Europe and North Africa.

European Support for Strategic Italian Renewable Energy Projects


The Medlink project is in line with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (Entso-e) long-term planning and is part of the Mattei plan (named after the former prime minister) – Meloni’s overall strategy for Africa that focuses on regional development and the fight against irregular migration.

Bringing alleged Italian renewable energy projects into the picture, the Italian government portrays itself as a vital engine of sustainable development and regional stability.

This so-called ‘Medlink’ project would contribute 8 per cent of Italy’s annual electricity demand, meaning that Italy would finally step forward as a center for Europe’s energy.

And then there’s ‘Elmed’– the other transmission line connecting Tunisia and Italy, greenlighted by Meloni’s government, and entrusted to the government-controlled Terna and the Tunisian Electricity and Gas Company. Italy is taking triple responsibility, now seeing its leadership in renewable energy initiatives as a crucial contribution to regional energy security.

Technological and Environmental Benefits


The 10 gigawatts of renewable energy – generated by the wind turbines and solar panels production at the numerous sites and stored within the large battery-storage zones identified – will be sent to northern Italy via high-voltage submarine cables from 2030.

It aims to export electricity not just to Italy, but also to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Both Tunisia and Algeria will become world leaders in areas of renewable energy technologies – from advanced photovoltaic panels to storage systems.

It would reduce carbon emissions of more than 2 million metric tons per year, contributing to climate-change mitigation; and it would use sustainable business practices for land-conservation and waste management throughout its lifecycle, stressing environmental responsibility and long-term sustainability.

Economic Impact for Renewable Energy


The Medlink project will have positive economic consequences. Both in Tunisia and Algeria, the project will lead to more than 10,000 direct and indirect employment vacancies in construction, manufacturing, and services.

It will make a positive contribution in the reduction of unemployment, and it will strengthen incomes by bringing more money to the region. On top of this, it is estimated that the construction of an undersea cable will contribute to 1 per cent in GDP growth rate of these two North African countries each year during the next 10 years.

Medlink will stimulate many different economic sectors in these countries and contribute significantly to their growth and development.

Mediterranean Cooperation in Renewable Energy


Beyond the direct economic and environmental benefits, Medlink is an investment in the future of Mediterranean cooperation, by ensuring a reliable supply of renewable energy that brings greater stability in energy prices, reducing Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels from unstable sources.

It can increase energy security and support the shift to a greener economy. Furthermore, sharing water in the project also represents a battle against global warming, by lowering the greenhouse gas emissions, and steering the road towards sustainable electricity production.

The cooperation between European and north African countries in the frame of the project is just one of many examples showing how we can jointly tackle a common endeavor towards common interests. The Medlink project is a symbol of co-operation at a regional level and a commitment to the green economy.

It utilizes solar energy to develop a model of green development and places the region as a key actor within the renewables-based development of Europe as a whole.

In short, it is evidence of another important step toward a sustainable path in both North Africa and Europe, building prosperity, technological innovation, and ecological progress towards a clean energy future amid the rising tide of climate change.


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