Algeria is the leading natural gas producer in Africa and is the second-largest supplier of gas to Europe, but that is not slowing down the North African country’s plan to ramp up solar power generation. Although some critics claim Algeria has not harvested enough of the country’s fossil fuels, such criticism has not stopped the country’s energy minister, Youcef Yousfi, from announcing a plan to install 13.5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2030.
According to pv magazine, Algeria could generate over ¼ of its energy needs from renewables by 2030. The country plans on investing in 5 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy and an additional 2 GW of concentrated solar power (CSP) to offset the need of an additional 22 GW of natural gas power generation.
To nudge Algeria into adopting more clean energy technologies, the country’s energy ministry launched a feed-in tariff (FiT) last year. The program offers solar power generators about $0.17 per kilowatt-hour, and has contributed to what is currently about 350 MW worth of solar PV projects that are currently on the drawing board.
Investment in renewable energy is one path for Algeria to diversify its economy while addressing unemployment, which hovers around 16% — but soars up to a staggering 70% for those under the age of 25. Despite its oil and gas riches, Algeria’s national oil company, Sonotrach, has hardly contributed to the country’s overall economic development and has a harsh reputation for rampant corruption. As with other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, oil has been more of a curse than a blessing: renewables are a step towards preparing Algeria for a more high-tech and diverse 21st century economy.
Image Credit: Damien Boilley