Exclusive: Tunisia’s TuNur mandates Lion’s Head to seek finance for expansion

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Friday, 15 April 2022 10:14

Powered by the sun, Tunisian electric car built to sustain
A three-wheeled solar electric car is driven around Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Jihed Abidellaoui

Tunisian renewable energy provider TuNur has mandated Lion’s Head Global Partners as lead adviser as it seeks to raise funds for international expansion, CEO Daniel Rich tells The Africa Report.

The London-based investment bank will “support our growth plans in renewable energy and hydrogen development across the region,” Rich says in Tunis. North Africa is a “logical starting point” for expansion, which Rich aims to start in 2023.

Decarbonisation objectives and the war between Russia and Ukraine have left Europe needing to find new, clean sources of energy. There’s “no silver bullet” for the continent to become secure and sustainable in energy, Rich says. “Exports from North Africa in the form of electricity or green molecules will be an important part of the energy mix.”

TuNur aims to help meet demand for renewable energy in North Africa and Europe. Tunisia has up to 20% better solar radiation levels than even the best sites in Europe, according to TuNur shareholder Nur Energie, which has a solar weather station in the Sahara. The desert environment means there is land available to develop large-sale projects.

  • Lion’s Head specialises in finance for emerging and frontier markets and has previously advised companies such as Renergen in South Africa and Genesis Energy in West Africa.
  • TuNur’s emphasis will remain in solar power as it expands, Rich says.
  • It will need to raise both holding company and project finance. Equity fundraising is under way at the holding level, he says, declining to give the amount sought.
  • Rich is ready to consider possible opportunities across the continent, and a longer-term ambition is to enter the Middle East.

Domestic goals

Along with Nur Energie, current shareholders in TuNur include Malta’s Zammit Group, Franco-Tunisian group Glory Clean Energy and US impact investor Armonia.

TuNur plans to start injecting solar power into Tunisia’s national grid in the second half of 2023. The country is targeting a 30% share of energy from renewables by 2030, or about 3,800MW of supply. Rich says TuNur will be taking part in the government’s solar power tenders in coming years.

The company is developing a 2,000MW transmission line planned to deliver low-cost baseload solar power from TuNur’s solar facility in southern Tunisia to Italy from 2028. Power will be transmitted from the Sahara desert via an overhead line to a shoring point, and then by subsea cable to be received north of Rome. From there, the power will be distributed across Europe.

  • The project will need equity and debt financing,  and fundraising will start in 2024. A cost analysis has been carried out, but Rich declined to say how much will be needed.
  • The company is working on a series of green hydrogen projects in Tunisia. The country has “a big opportunity for hydrogen development for consumption and export,” Rich says.
  • TuNur also has a green ammonia project. Rich aims to bring this online in 2025 for domestic and export supply.

Bottom line

Rich is confident that North Africa will be a core component of Europe’s future energy mix.

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