Solar heating technology is a solution that could meet the needs of Tunisian consumers. Its distribution is profitable for the community, given the rise in world prices of conventional fuels and their development prospects. Recognizing these challenges, the Tunisian government has decided to implement an ambitious long-term program to develop the sector of solar water heaters in Tunisia. It is the PROSOL program. In an interview with African Manager, Moncef Njeim, Program Director speaks about its progress.
Would you brief us on the PROSOL?
PROSOL program was established in 2005. This program is based on three essential components:
– A regulatory framework embodied by the law No. 72 issued in 2004 and amended and updated by the law of 09/02/2009.
– An incentive framework, through the creation of national fund for energy efficiency in 2005, which is used to grant bonuses for different actions and programs of energy efficiency including solar water heaters in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
– An adequate institutional framework for managing this PROSOL program, i.e. ANME, STEG, suppliers and the bank.
For the institutional framework, ANME is responsible for the program while the STEG guarantees the recovery of loans granted by the bank to customers who purchase a solar water heater.
Regarding the residential sector, can you tell us about the gains made?
Practically, we have achieved the annual targets set by the program during the period 2005 to 2009. Thus, 80,000 square meters of solar collectors have been created annually since 2008. Until 2009, we realized a total of 400 thousand square meters of solar water heaters that were installed. For 2010, the goal is to produce 80,000 square meters. Currently, and until October 2010, we achieved 70 000 square meters, or 87% of the target for this year.
Note that the strength of PROSOL program is that all beneficiaries subscribers to STEG are entitled to a credit that will be repaid on the bill of the latter over a period of 5 years, and this, in addition to the grant awarded by the State which is 200 DT for solar water heaters whose collector surface is between 1 and 3 cubic meters and 400 TD for a solar water heater whose collector surface is between 3 and 7 m². Under these conditions, some customers may have a solar water heater without paying any millime initially, excluding the file management fees.
Regarding the administrative procedure, those who are interested need just sign a contract to join the PROSOL program and subscribe to a bank credit. In doing so, the client will have its solar water heater installed in his home. The rest of the administrative procedure will be supported by ANME, STEG, the bank and the supplier.
The other advantage is that suppliers, whose number increases every year to reach 45 currently, including 8 manufacturers, will be paid regularly from the total grants and appropriations of solar water heaters installed monthly as part of the PROSOL program in fixed terms not exceeding two months after filing of records.
At another level, the installation of solar water heaters by small companies covering all the territory of Tunisia has generated jobs, knowing that their number is 1000 now and it continues to increase as the program is progressing.
We should also point out that the establishment of PROSOL program has generated about 6,000 job positions. This number continues to grow gradually.
What are the targets of the PROSOL residential program?
The targets set by the Presidential Program 2009-2014 is to reach 750 thousand square meters by 2014. Among other things, the PROSOL program currently gives special importance to the quality of facilities, the quality equipment and after sales service.
In this context, and regarding excellent facilities, we have implemented a QUALISOL aimed to ensure the quality of facilities. It is a qualification program for installers, who are called to respect the QUALISOL code and comply with definite” criteria and standards during the installation of solar water heaters. In this regard, ANME, in collaboration with the Trade Association of Renewable Energy is currently conducting a training course for 500 installers.
Regarding after sales service, ANME is currently setting up, in collaboration with the profession, a maintenance mechanism to which suppliers must commit to give a total guarantee of proper functioning of solar water heaters for a period of 5 years renewable by means of a maintenance contract between the supplier and customer.
Regarding the quality of solar water heaters, there is a laboratory in Tunisia dedicated to testing of solar water heaters which is being equipped with needed measuring instruments aimed at testing the effectiveness and thermal and mechanical performance of solar water heaters. Among other things, ANME, in collaboration with partners such as INNORPI the CTMCCV, the CETIME and the TUNAC, is currently conducting work aimed to achieve the certification of solar water heaters to reassure customers that these water heaters are compliant with current standards.
Can you give us an insight into the tertiary program?
It is useful to recall first of all we started this program in 2008. A funding mechanism has been established. We established a procedure for the realization of small and large solar installations in the tertiary sector. The point is to strengthen the presence of all parties concerned to ensure proper installation. There are consulting firms which are about 20, 3 control offices and 12 installation companies that are currently active in this field.
The goal for 2016 is to achieve 30,000 square meters of solar water heaters in this area. The first achievements were made in 2009. In this context, we can say that there are priority niches. They include the hotel sector, municipal pools, Moorish baths and private university hostels.
Regarding the achievements made, we can note that 5300 square meters of solar water heaters were installed until late October 2010.
In addition, 51 hotels have joined the program, 12 hotels of which have made their collective solar installations and 17 hotels are being installed. In addition, 120 service establishments in the tertiary sector have also materialized thermal systems of less than 30 square meters.
Would emphasis be placed on the hotel industry despite the existence of other very important areas where we can use this technology?
The hotel sector has great potential. But this does not mean that we neglect other areas. The proof is that we will cooperate with the Department of Youth to install 14 municipal swimming pools. We are also negotiating with the trade association for Moorish baths to convince them of the usefulness of solar water heaters.
What about the industrial sector?
For the industrial sector, we will promote the use of solar water heaters in this sector especially in the food and textile industries. It should be recalled that this program was initiated earlier this year with a study on the potential for integration of solar heaters in 80 industrial establishments. It was noted that 60% of them are interested in solar heaters.
The goal is to make demonstration projects. Actually, three pilot projects will be carried out through Tunisian-Italian cooperation. After the implementation of these demonstration projects, a funding mechanism and an appropriate institutional framework will be established as we did when installing the PROSOL program.
The aim is to achieve 30 thousand square meters by 2016.