Christopher Gross, Le marché photovoltaique en Tunisie, GIZ 2013
A continuing decline in the price of photovoltaics in 2012 has made photovoltaic projects more economically feasible in many parts the world, including promising emerging markets. This could imply a unique strategic opportunity for North African countries, which are endowed with high levels of solar insolation and a have strong political will to diversify their electricity mix. Targeting significant scale-up potentials will drive costs down and will determine whether North Africa makes use of its opportunity to benefit from cheap solar electricity in the near future.
However, although international prices for residential photovoltaic systems dropped by 40 percent since 2010, prices in Tunisia have only decreased by 27 percent over the same period. Average price levels are still 25 percent above international levels. Lack of competition and transparency lead to market distortions and price variations in the range of 50 percent per system installed. In 2012 only 4 of 41 suppliers offered system prices close to international levels.
In an effort to stimulate the photovoltaic market, the Tunisian government has introduced first instruments of policy support. Dedicated to residential customers, the implementation of the program PROSOL-Elec in 2010 has mobilized investments to develop about 4 MWp of photovoltaic capacity, 90 percent of which is accounted for by systems of 1-2 kWp capacity. The self-production scheme, dedicated to the tertiary and industrial sector, has not been successful at developing projects. Overall the market for photovoltaics is still poorly developed and has only focused on small-scale residential systems. Photovoltaic plants of commercial scale (up to 1 MWp) and large-scale (more than 1 MWp) have not yet been realized in Tunisia.
The study identifies three market segments – Residential, Commercial, and Industrial – where photovoltaics in a net-metering scheme is already profitable or will be profitable in the near future. Without subsidies, residential roof-top struggles the most in being competitive with electricity rates that most consumers are obliged to pay. However, assuming access to international market prices and efficient capital state subsidies, residential systems become cost-effective. Where residential entities consume more than 300 kWh, photovoltaic is already economically viable - even without subsidies. The same accounts for the commercial segment, where photovoltaic systems can provide savings in the range of 6-7 DT / kWh. Whether investments in the industrial segment are cost effective highly depends on the tariff structure, but show promise for electricity produced during peak periods.
The Tunisian Solar Plan (PST) envisages installing 1,510 MWp of photovoltaic capacity by 2030. On path to this target, this study expects that the value of the photovoltaic market will increase from 71 million dinars in 2013 to 181 million dinars in 2020 and require and a total investment of 1,185 million dinars.
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