Feasibility study underway for Elmed Mediterranean (Italy-Tunisia) electricity interconnector

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The feasibility studies are underway for Elmed Mediterranean (Italy-Tunisia) interconnector, which is a proposed 600 MW undersea high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnector that will link Tunisia’s electricity/power grid to the much larger European network via Italy.

The works are being carried out by RINA S.p.A., an Italian company that provides a wide range of services across the Energy, Marine, Certification, Transport & Infrastructure and Industry sectors, in a joint venture (JV) with Comete, a Tunisian consulting and multi-disciplinary engineering firm operating in the areas of building, infrastructure, transportation, planning, and environment.

The JV was selected to carry out the works by ELMED ÉTUDES SÀRL, a joint venture between Terna and Société Tunisienne de l’Électricité et du Gaz (STEG), the two companies that manage the Italian and Tunisian electricity transmission grids respectively, following a public tender.

Scope of the study

The feasibility study, which officially started in April 2021, is set to run for a period of one year. It will identify two possible landfalls at either end of the Elmed Mediterranean (Italy-Tunisia) interconnector, determining the best option in terms of geological and environmental aspects. It will, in addition, establish possible routes for the underwater section, identifying and evaluating possible constraints and obstacles.

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The topographic, nearshore and offshore field surveys will follow and the preliminary geophysical surveys, which will be followed by a detailed survey of the seabed using instruments that will be mounted on remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs).  The final stages will cover seabed characterization at the Italian site according to the relevant laws and regulations.

Significance of the Elmed Mediterranean (Italy-Tunisia) interconnector

Stretching over more than 200 kilometers with land and sub-sea sections to a depth of 800m, the Elmed Mediterranean (Italy-Tunisia) interconnector will enable deeper integration of electricity markets in the Mediterranean area, significantly improving connections between the North African countries and Europe.

According to the World Bank, it will close the Europe-Maghreb network loop that runs from Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, and Algeria.

Furthermore, it will ensure energy security and sustainability more especially in Tunisia. The World Bank estimates that the Elmed would be able to supply up to 16% of Tunisia’s current power needs and help address the north African country’s growing energy shortage by importing electricity from Italy.