Algeria launches hybrid power plant
By Mohand Ouali for Magharebia in Algiers – 24/07/11
Algeria last week inaugurated the first-of-its-kind gas-solar hybrid power facility. The Hassi R'mel power plant in the Tilghemt region has an overall capacity of 150 MW, including 30MW from solar energy.
The completion of the 350 million-euro project is "an eloquent example of co-operation, a ground-breaking experiment for the whole of the Mediterranean region", said Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian, who launched the July 14th ceremony with Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi.
The plant, carried out by New Energy Algeria (NEAL) and Spanish company Abener, is "a viable model for electricity generation in rural and mountainous areas far away from traditional electricity networks", he added.
The Spanish minister underlined his country's desire to become "a strategic partner for Algeria" in the realm of renewable energy.
The site of the facility, 25km north of Hassi R'mel, was chosen due to its proximity to gas installations and the amount of sunshine enjoyed by the region, which is estimated at 3,000 hours per year.
Eighty per cent of the funding was provided by a consortium of Algerian state-owned banks. A team of 70 people, including 65 Algerians and five Spaniards, will be responsible for operating the power station.
In addition to electricity production, the project will benefit the environment by substantially reducing carbon dioxide emissions and saving more than 7 million cubic metres of gas annually.
The opening of the new power plant can be seen as the first step in the realisation of Algeria's innovative energy policy.
The government in February adopted a new strategy, designed to expand the country's capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources, particularly solar and wind. According to the plan, alternative sources will produce as much as 40% of electricity production in the next twenty years.
As part of this, the government has committed itself to several partnership agreements. In May, Yousfi announced that Algeria was ready to begin long-term co-operation with the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which aims to deliver energy to Europe from solar farms in North Africa and the Middle East. Siemens, Deutsche Bank and nearly a dozen other European industrial, engineering and finance companies partnered for the 400 billion-euro project. Last December, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to set a joint economic commission to develop the initiative.
Another large-scale project will come to fruition in 2013. The Rouiba factory producing photovoltaic systems and modules will cost about 40 billion dinars (383 million euros), employ 500 workers and have a production capacity of 116 MW per year.
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