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Integration of renewable energies in the southern Mediterranean countries; IRESMED

The IRESMED project aimed at analyzing the integration of solar and wind energy for electricity supply in the rural regions of the southern Mediterranean countries. Research was carried out on the selection of the most appropriate sites to install the renewable energy systems, on the technologies most suited, on the cost/benefit analysis and on the possible financing schemes. A major issue was the competitively of renewable energies vis-à-vis fossil fuel options and thus detailed selection of the adapted sites (where the solar or wind resources are highest and which are close to load centres) have been done based on cost/benefit analysis in order to select the least cost options. The external benefits related to social or environmental aspects were also taken into account.

IRESMED constitutes a powerful consortium of electric utilities, national research centres and other supporting organizations from both sides of the Mediterranean basin. It includes those institutional actors who bear responsibility for the introduction and subsequent large scale implementation of renewable energies in the various participating countries.

The project analysed all aspects of large-scale integration of these renewable energy sources into the Mediterranean Partner countries participating in the project. This included the analysis of solar resources in regions where there is a potential demand for PV, and analysis of wind resources in areas of high potential for economical power generation with wind. It included the characterization of sites using GIS tools, economic evaluation in comparison with alternatives, study of institutional aspects including barriers to exploitation, possibilities of local manufacture of components, and financing requirements. All of these aspects have to considered in the exploitation of the results.

IRESMED defined the potential market for PV in rural electrification in large regions of Morocco, Algeria (case of PV plants), Tunisia, Egypt and the Palestinian National Authority. The results indicate a very large market in Morocco where several projects are already underway with outside support. Algeria provides a large market for PV plants to supply isolated grids with diesel in the southern regions. Tunisia provides a significant market for PV electrification in the centre and eastern part of the country. There are smaller needs for isolated rural villages in Egypt (Sinai) and PNA.

The applications of PV for water pumping and water desalination have been also analysed on a technical and economic point of view; there appear to be needs for PV water pumping in many isolated villages, but the needs for desalination with PV power supply is much more limited.

IRESMED has also defined the potential market for wind power in the most promising regions in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Palestinian National Authority. The results indicate a very large market in western Turkey which has already attracted interest from private developers. The potential market in Egypt is also very large on the Red Sea coast, and substantial development along the Gulf of Suez is taking place. The indicated resources in Morocco are also very large in the northern and western part of the country. Tunisia appears to have moderate potential on the northern coast. Jordan has also a moderate potential. The potential of the Palestinian National Authority is small due to limited wind resources and area available.

All these results show the large opportunities and potential market in these countries for European companies which are the world-wide leaders in wind and PV technologies. International funding agencies and other potential investors have also been informed of investment opportunities during the course of the financing tasks, and conversely the southern Mediterranean partners have become more aware of the eligibility criteria for various sources of funding. The World Bank and the European Investment Bank are aware of the IRESMED studies and results. The financing agencies and banks have been informed of the non confidential results of the project.

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