Sonelgaz signs MoU to harness solar power for EU

Sonelgaz_MoUSonelgaz, Algeria's national power and gas utility, has signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) to cooperate with the European Desertec consortium that plans to harness solar energy and other renewables in the MENA region.

The MoU was signed by Sonelgaz chief executive Noureddine Boutarfa, Desertec Industrial Initiative CEO Paul Van Son, EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger, and Algerian energy and mining minister Youcef Youfsi at a ceremony in Brussels that was broadcast on the Internet.

Key strategy

"The development of renewable energy is a key strategy for Algeria. If the right conditions are met we are convinced that we can export 10 GW of solar power to Europe a year," said Boutarfa.

And Youfsi added that while solar was the most obvious renewable source for Algeria, the country was also developing other renewables.

"With wind energy, we have projects ready to start in the south and we have potential for geothermal where we are looking to get started in a very promising region in the east of the country," the minister said.

Can overcome challenges

"I am convinced that with these joint efforts [with European partners] we can overcome the technological, economic and regulatory challenges that need to be addressed to develop these new sources of energy," Youfsi said.

Oettinger said the plan to harness renewable energy in North Africa would be included in the EC's forthcoming communication on renewable energy which is expected in the second quarter of 2012.

Grid reinforcements

"Sonelgaz and DII will join forces to develop this together with grid reinforcements for the improvement of the energy mix in Algeria and in Europe all-together...The potential exports that Mr Boutarfa mentions are a very effective way to supplement the renewable sources in Europe," said Van Son.

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