Steinbeis experts help with the expansion of renewable energy in Tunisia
In 2012, Germany entered into an energy partnership with Tunisia – even before the media were praising the global climate treaty, which made history when it was signed off in 2015. The focus of the 2012 collaboration agreement: renewable energy. With their scientific knowledge and experience, three Steinbeisers – Frank Graage, Peter Stein and Marcello Ambrosio – are also supporting know-how and technology transfer between the two countries, already successfully implementing projects.
Tunisia has little to offer in terms of raw materials, but it has every potential to become completely self-sufficient in terms of energy supplies thanks to solar power, wind energy, and geothermal energy. The country can produce enough energy to cover its own needs and even export energy in the form of green hydrogen, methanol, ammonia, but also end products produced by the chemicals industry. Tunisia also has significant opportunities to offer sustainable holidays. The country’s greatest area of potential, however, is its young population. The high proportion of young women working in technical areas and participating in degree programs offer the country a variety of new possibilities. Germany is supporting Tunisia in realizing this potential as part of a so-called energy partnership.
Germany also stands to benefit from the partnership, which not only helps reduce its dependence on a small number of supply countries, but also allows it to develop sustainable logistical networks. This is something that has been recognized by Steinbeis expert Peter Stein, who is supporting and promoting the interests of a variety of partnerships and projects.
Tackling the energy crisis through partnerships
The Wind4Grid project is also contributing to successful renewable energy development in Tunisia. The focus of the project lies in collaboration between two Tunisian and two German partner companies in the field of storage technology and grid feed-in systems. Wind4Grid falls under a bilateral science and technology collaboration program funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Other parties involved in the project are the Laboratoire d’Etudes des Systèmes Thermiques et Energétiques in Monastir, the Chair of Wind Energy Technology (LWE) at the University of Rostock, Freqcon from Germany, and Qair from Tunisia.
Frank Graage, Steinbeis entrepreneur at Technology Management North East, a Steinbeis Research Center, has been involved in the project on behalf of the University of Rostock. His aim was to organize an innovation forum to allow stakeholders from the two countries to exchange ideas and embark on future initiatives. The forum, which was held in Tunis on May 11, 2022, was attended by 40 people and was organized to coincide with a visit from a business and science delegation. There were a number of opportunities for delegates to enter into scientific and industrial partnerships at the innovation forum, the aim of which was to integrate and advance the technologies presented in Tunisia, partly in order to expand the networks of existing contacts, but also to find new partner organizations or embark on the first pilot projects.
“All participants wanted to see more coordinated exchange and collaboration in order to tackle the current energy crisis,” says Steinbeis expert Frank Graage. To this end, a memorandum of understanding was signed, which will be presented in October to mark the tenth anniversary of the German-Tunisian energy partnership. A request will also be submitted to involve more innovation stakeholders in this area – from both countries.
Innovative lightweight construction for resource-efficient energy generation
Also participating in the innovation forum in Tunis was Marcello Ambrosio from the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Polymer and Metal-Based Lightweight Design. He had specific reasons to be interested in partnerships. For his work at Brandenburg University of Technology (Department of Polymer-Based Lightweight Construction) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP), Ambrosio develops innovative lightweight technology for renewable and resource-efficient energy generation. “Our focus lies in a new type of rotor blade for small wind turbines using ultra-lightweight technology. Combining it with photovoltaic systems offers the ideal basis for decentralized energy supplies in the off-grid sector. The rotor blade is designed for low-wind regions, such as the Tunisian hinterland, and it can be used almost anywhere,” explains Steinbeis entrepreneur Marcello Ambrosio.
Brandenburg University of Technology and the Fraunhofer IAP are also developing fiber composite-based pressurized containers for storing hydrogen used in power-to-gas (PtG) systems. The containers are equipped with integrated monitoring systems, which ensure safety and worry-free maintenance, especially in residential use.
More on the tour to Tunisia of the business and science delegation (German video): https://youtu.be/8e2MYBk2Wc4 
Topics discussed at the innovation forum included:
- Energy grid stabilization through wind turbines with integrated battery storage
- Linking of planned solar parks and wind farms with hydrogen, methanol, and ethanol production
- Seawater desalination using renewable energy for hydrogen electrolysis
- The potential of offshore wind energy off the Tunisian coast
- Lightweight small wind turbines for decentralized energy supplies