Synthetic fuels, especially hydrogen, are increasingly recognised as a key strategic element for the further progress of the German and European energy transition. Especially green hydrogen, produced with renewable electricity, is projected to play an important role to ensure a low-carbon development. But already today it is clear that the domestic generation of green hydrogen will most likely not be sufficient to cover the predicted demand, which is why in the medium to long-term substantial quantities of the required hydrogen will need to be imported.
North Africa is particularly highlighted as a potential future producer and exporter of green hydrogen and other Power-to-X (PtX) fuels due to its proximity to Europe and its abundant solar and wind energy potential. This also applies to Tunisia, which with its climatic and geographical conditions offers promising technical and economic potential for the development of a national PtX sector, that could also play an important role in international hydrogen supply networks and markets in the long term. However, the cumulative findings from several studies on energy transition processes make it clear that promising technical-economic potentials are generally not sufficient to initiate effective change in national energy systems. Socio-political variables and institutional and economic structures play a key role in the design of effective energy transition processes. Tunisia itself is one example of this complexity, where the share of renewable energy in electricity generation is still marginal despite the high potential and the rather ambitious national solar plan. It is therefore important to take into account the various economic and social interests and the technical, political, environmental and economic opportunities and challenges, including aspects such as the increasing domestic energy demand, in view of developing a strategy for the built-up of a PtX sector.
Against this background, the objective of this study is to provide a first systematic assessment of the major aspects relevant to the development of PtX in Tunisia and provide recommendations for further support and research.