Algeria’s renewable vision
Algeria, which holds the second-largest gas reserve in Africa and the third-largest reserve of petrol in the continent, is going big when it comes to harnessing natural resources to realize its plan for renewable energy. The national renewable energy development program seeks to achieve a production of 22,000 megawatts of electricity through renewable resources by 2030, which is 37 percent of total electricity generation.
The government’s objective, according to the supervising ministry, is to reduce fossil energy consumption by more than nine percent by 2030, to save 240 billion metric-cube of natural gas or $63 billion over 20 years.
The World Bank’s (WB) 2016 RISE (Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy) report, published in February 2016, confirms this orientation: Algeria has begun its program of the production of sustainable energy. To achieve success, the government is focusing on the solar, photovoltaic and wind sectors to accelerate the implementation of the program.
Strengthening industrial capacity
More concretely, Algiers plans to strengthen its industrial production capacity and to create a favorable ecosystem for the production of the energies of the future.
“The future of Algeria is in renewable energies,” said Energy Minister Noureddine Bouterfa on the sidelines of a conference organized at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (School of Higher Business Studies) in Koléa (province de Tipaza in Algeria) on the subject of the National Renewable Energy Program. “The energy sector is witnessing accelerated changes in the technologies used for energy production,” he said.
On his part, Noureddine Yassaa, the director of the country’s Renewable Energy Development Centre (CDER), stressed: “Energy efficiency and renewable energy programs will enable, on the one hand, to rationalize energy consumption and fight against waste, and, on the other, to substitute electricity production from clean and sustainable alternative source of energy.”
Renewable energies, which represent opportunities for economic growth on a global scale, require the acquisition of scientific and technological skills. Clean and sustainable energy also permits the creation of jobs, as well as industrialization, technological development and techniques, the acquisition of know-how and the exploitation of untapped natural resources, which are non-toxic and protective of nature.
Sonelgaz and General Power, a subsidiary of the American group General Electric (GE), have signed a $3 billion partnership agreement for the creation of an industrial complex in Ain Yagout in the province of Batna, in eastern Algeria.
The creation of the joint venture General Electric Algerie Turbines (Geat) will enable the manufacturing of steam turbines and an order control system as well as the production of spare parts for gas turbines by the subsidiary of Algeria’s energy group MEI ( Maintenance of Industrial Equipment).
The agreement includes, among various things, operations and maintenance services for ten power stations across the country, which will generate a capacity of production of 11 gigawatts of electricity. According to the media press release: “Considered the largest partnership in the history of GE Power Services, this agreement will strengthen local industrial capabilities and boost the digital transition of the country’s power plants.”
The program, which will integrate a system of strengthening energy efficiency (Advanced Gas Path), will enhance output to a level as high as 420 megawatts of additional power and will reduce the consumption of natural gas.
According to GE management, the introduction of these digital solutions will enhance the operational efficiency and productivity of power plants. This optimization of production will save the country up to $2 billion in gas.
Harnessing new technologies
As such, the Geat production unit will also benefit from a training program for these new technologies. “Emphasis will be placed on developing industrial capacity and on the digital transition of power plant assets which are long-term investments for the future of the country. GE is honored to strengthen its collaboration with Sonelgaz and create a vibrant local ecosystem for the energy sector that will help meet the needs of citizens and of different industries in Algeria,” said Steve Bolze, CEO of GE Power.
“The government’s top priority is to increase electricity production in the country with the help of an efficient, sustainable and productive infrastructure,” added the Minister of Energy.
The Geat plant will manufacture equipments and spare parts with high added value, and will also stimulate exports and create new jobs for young people. According to the minister, the expertise of the American firm in the mastery of digital industrial technologies will contribute, through the transfer of know-how, to improving the skills of local human resources.
Development of supply chains
Attatba’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market, in the Tipaza province in northern Algeria, is the first commercial space to have a smart solar power plant. On the roof of one of the buildings, 110 photovoltaic panels supply power to this four-hectare site from where 2,000 tons of goods transit every day. According to Myriam Fournier Kacimi, founder of Sungy, the panels were supplied by the Algerian group Condor and the equipment by the multinational French industrial group Schneider Electric.
“The Tipaza project is a pilot project that has been successfully implemented. We are ready to work with all of the players who believe in solar energy and who want to deploy these solutions on the national territory,” said Akli Brihi, CEO of Schneider Electric Algeria. The latter considers solar industry as one of the major axes of development for Algeria.
In 2014, the Renewable Energy Electricity Company, a subsidiary of the Sonelgaz Group, signed a partnership with Belectric GmbH, a German company specializing in the installation of photovoltaic systems, for the construction of four solar power stations with the total capacity of 85.5 megawatts.
These are distributed in the provinces of Saida (30 megawatts), Naama (20), El Bayadh (23) and Sidi Bel Abbes (12). “Algeria, because of its geographical location, has the availability of a solar deposit and the most important wind power potential in the world,” said Jochen Meyer, director of Belectric.
“The solar power plant at Ain Skhouna in Saida has resulted in increased capacity of electric power generation and has brought the supply back to the level of the demand, or even higher,” said one of the officials of the concerned authority.
The plant in this province, erected on 42 hectares, was completed in 11 months and cost approximately $480 million. Meanwhile, the Sonatrach group and the Italian company Eni have launched the construction of a ten megawatt photovoltaic power plant in Bir Rebaa, in the province of Ouargla, situated in the south of the country. This power plant will start production at the end of the current year, and will be used to power the oil field of Bir Rebaa Nord – the Eni subsidiary Sonatrach-Agip – through the deployment of 32,000 solar panels installed over an area of 20 hectares.
Thanks to this program, both partners will be able to save the equivalent of six million metric-cube of gas per year. According to the project’s initiators, the program also includes the implementation of a research unit dedicated to renewable energies with the objective of allowing the proliferation of similar projects to the far south of the country.
Till date, the sector has produced 400 megawatts of renewable energy through the Hassi R’Mel hybrid power plant (100 megawatts) and the Ghardaïa pilot solar power plant (1.1 megawatts).
It should be noted that 14 photovoltaic power stations with a capacity of 268 megawatt were commissioned in 2015 in the highlands and in the south of the country. These plants, which cost nearly 70 billion dinars, have enabled the creation of 300 jobs.
Boosting local economy
Algeria had also launched a national and international call for tenders for the construction of the largest solar power plant in the world.
This plant will have a production and distribution capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts of renewable electricity.
“According to the specifications of the tender, domestic and foreign investors will be obliged to produce locally and ensure the local assembly of industrial equipment for the production and the distribution of renewable energies, in particular photovoltaic panels,” indicated the ministry, in a plenary session devoted to oral questions at the Council of the Nation.
Besides, the Minister of Energy also stressed that this mega project will have a very positive impact in terms of job creation, industrialization, technological development and the acquisition of know-how in this field.
At the Powering Africa Summit Forum, held in Washington from March 8 to 9, the Electricity and Gas Engineering Company (CEEG), a subsidiary of the Sonelgaz Group, presented its mega project for a solar photovoltaic power plant of 4050 megawatts. This project is considered as one of the most important programs on the African continent.
“The solar power plant, composed of three lots of 1,350 megawatts each, will be equipped with several factories manufacturing equipment and components of photovoltaic solar power plants,” explained Ouidad Hamrour, director of the development and production facilities department of CEEG, in her presentation.
The forum brought together nearly 400 investors looking for opportunities in the African energy sector and representatives of several American banks and government agencies including the WB.
At the Algerian-American Forum on Energy, held in Houston, Texas, in December 2016, Noureddine Bouterfa called on US companies to deepen their partnerships with Algeria.
Referring to the future power plant, the minister recalled that this mega project “represents one energy component that consists of building power plants and another industrial component dedicated to the local manufacture of equipment and materials aimed for these units”.
On the sidelines of the event, the Minister met with Bruce Cutright and John Chrosneck, CEOs of Thermal Energy Partner and Dupont, two US companies specializing in the development of renewable energy projects, especially photovoltaics and geothermal energy.
“We have set ambitious and promising targets for renewable energy and we are committed to make the next 20 years an era of genuine development for sustainable energy,” said Bouterfa.
This program will enable Algeria to build clean and renewable energy facilities linked to the national industries that will include all elements of the renewable value chain, comprising engineering, equipment and construction.
“To achieve this,” the minister explains, “the government will build strong, beneficial and equitable international partnerships that will enable the country to achieve its energy transition by installing clean, profitable and sustainable production and consumption units”.
The economists are unanimous on this issue. They consider that the increased use of renewable energies will reduce national consumption of fossil fuels, which will be saved for exports, which in turn will enable the country to gradually reduce its dependence on oil revenues.