Centrotherm to build Africa's largest PV factory in Algeria
Germany’s Centrotherm has confirmed an order to build Africa’s largest PV factory for Algeria’s state-run energy utility Sonelgaz.
Working alongside Kinetics, a mechanical-process specialist based in the US, Centrotherm will design, build and kit out the fully-integrated factory 30km east of the capital Algiers.
An initial production capacity of 116MW is expected to be on line by 2014. The order is valued at €290m ($430.4m), with “the largest proportion” going to Centrotherm.
Algeria, the largest country bordering the Mediterranean and the world’s 16th-largest oil producer, is among the sunniest nations in the world. It receives about 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, compared to half that figure in southern Germany.
"Solar energy possesses great market potential, particularly in very sunny countries such as Algeria or in the Arabian region, because it is unrivalled in terms of cost compared with other energy sources," says Centrotherm chief executive Robert Hartung.
Despite its fossil-fuel resources, Algeria, like a growing number of Middle Eastern and North African countries, intends to invest heavily in renewables in the coming decades and is seen as a lynchpin of the Desertec concept.
Tangiers has outlined plans to invest $60bn by 2030 building up a local renewables sector, with the money to come from a tax on oil exports.
Algeria’s first solar installation, a gas-PV hybrid, is under development at Hassi R’mel, while French engineering group Cegelec won a tender last year to build the country’s first wind farm.
In February Algeria lifted its 19-year-old state of emergency in response to the wave of protests that spread from Tunisia during the so-called “Arab Spring”.
While the ongoing protests have not reached the scale or intensity of those seen in Egypt and Tunisia, their persistence led President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to promise further democratic reforms.