Not so long ago Algeria was the world’s fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas, delivering 10% of the gas consumed by Europe. The vast majority of the Algerian territory is a desert land with very few inhabitants and harsh conditions, but simultaneously abundant solar energy resources.
Natural Gas: 97%
Total primary energy supply 39,758 ktoe
Natural Gas: 58.4%
Oil and Products: 40.3%
Renewable & waste: 0.1%
Domestic energy consumption is on the rise, in 2008 demand for petrol increased 10% and diesel 13%. Natural gas accounts for 60% of Algeria’s hydrocarbons consumption, with public distribution systems supplying gas to households. Despite significant renewable potential, the share of energy from renewables in Algeria is 0.3%, which is mostly hydropower. Algerian power production has reached 35 TWh, and is almost solely based on natural gas. Algeria has the capacity to export electricity to neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia.
Algeria has over 140,000 miles of power lines, serving almost the entire population, over 98%. There are plans to increase the size of the network by 5% in coming years in order to reach isolated rural communities and hydrocarbon developments in the Sahara Desert. Plans exist to expand the use of renewable and nuclear energy. Today, they play a marginal role for domestic electricity generation.
The geographic location of Algeria means it has the potential to play an important strategic role in the implementation of renewable energy technology in the north of Africa, providing sufficient energy for its own needs and even exporting it to countries as far as Europe. It is believed that Algeria could one day export solar energy to markets in Europe, as it becomes connected to European energy networks.
The Algerian Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) states that “the biggest potential in Algeria is for solar”, with data from the World Energy Council confirming the Sahara region to have the most potential. The development of solar energy plants is supported by the MEM and realised mainly by Sonelgaz and other private installer companies. The solar energy is regarded as an important line of research within the structure of the department of renewable energies of Sonelgaz.
Wind energy is feasible where the average wind velocity is higher than 5–6 m/s. Algeria has substantial plans to develop their wind energy potential. Studies of indigenous wind resources in Algeria, performed in recent years by the Algerian Centre for Renewable Energy Development (CDER, http://www.cder.dz/) , show that the climatic conditions in Algeria are favourable for wind energy utilisation. The wind map established by the MEM shows that 50% of the country’s surface receives a high average wind speed. The best wind energy potential is in the South, especially in the South-Western region where the wind velocity is higher than 6m/s.
The wind resource has also been assessed by the developer, Sonelgaz, and at present, there are six pilot projects for electrification and telecommunication which are identified and quantified. These are Adrar, Tindouf, bordj Badji Mokhtar, Bechar, Tamanrassat and Djanet. The installation, by Sonelgaz, of nine assessment stations in different regions of Algeria is the next step in accelerating the use of wind power.
Energy Efficiency (EE)
The Algerian Agency for the Promotion and Rationalisation of the Use of Energy (APRUE) expects energy consumption to increase by 81% between 2003 and 2020, an annual growth rate of about 3.5%. The demand for electricity will be particularly high due to urbanisation, an increasing standard of living and development of a service sector.
The development of Algerian primary energy intensity is in line with its GDP. Algeria’s residential and service sector constitute the highest potential for Energy Efficiency improvements.