NAMA Support for the Tunisian Solar Plan Evaluation

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2021-2025, Tunisia
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
03/2022
Completion Date:
03/2022
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
No
Evaluation Budget(US $):
27,000

Summary of project results

Component 1:

The project contributed to capacity building of the ministries and agencies involved in the design and implementation of the TSP NAMA. It also enabled improved response to Paris Agreement requirements in relation to actions for mitigating GHG emissions and improved monitoring of NAMAs in the energy sector. The capacity building component also targeted the Ministry in Charge of Environment as the responsible body for the implementation of Tunisia´s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), as well as the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of GHG emissions.

The project also supported the elaboration of a comprehensive report entitled “Tunisia: De-risking Renewable Energy Investment 2018”[1] containing an analysis of the evolving national institutional context that confirmed the necessity to continue the strengthening of the institutional and regulatory framework for renewable energy in Tunisia. Support for the implementation of the system dynamics modelling (SDM) enabled comprehensive understanding of the constituent components of the energy sector and their interactions, thus contributing to effective mitigation of undesirable outcomes.

In collaboration with parallel initiatives, the project contributed to the evolution of ANME's information system (Ener-info) into a techno-economic simulation model, capable of simulating GHG emissions in the energy sector based on various scenarios, which helped Tunisia in developing a long-term vision for energy policy and assessing the macro-economic impact of the penetration of renewable electricity into the national energy mix. This foresight work allowed setting ambitious mitigation objectives for 2030 and 2050 horizons, that were used to update the Nationally Determined Contribution according to Tunisia's climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Component 2:

The project provided essential assistance for the development of indicators to measure the contribution of the energy sector to the attainment of Tunisia´s sustainable development goals and objectives, enabling the assessment of public policies related to electricity production and consumption modes.

In Tunisia, the energy sector is the biggest contributor to direct gross GHG emissions, with 27 million tCO2e represented 58% of national gross emissions in 2012[2]. Therefore, effective progress towards the achievement of a renewable energy transition and the attainment of GHG mitigation targets depends heavily on the electricity sector. To this end, the project supported initial work towards the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for the electricity sector.  Relevance of this move had been identified as the most important action in the accelerated action plan for renewable energies. The importance of such independent regulatory authority for the implementation of the TSP was confirmed by public and private sector stakeholders whom expect an independent regulator to reduce the limits and uncertainties of the electricity market to facilitate the energy transition, but to also promote renewable energy technologies in the fortified market.

The project sponsored a study for restructuring ANME and assisted in launching the initial restructuring phase. Once fully restructured, ANME will be able to fully assume its leading role in the development and implementation of national policies towards a low-carbon economy. The reform is essential not only for accelerating Tunisia's energy transition, but also for accrediting ANME under the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Although the project did not directly contribute to developing new regulations on renewable energy (RE), it provided the opportunity for convening public and private stakeholders for discussion on new legislative measures aiming at closing the gaps in the regulatory framework specifically related to renewable energies. In particular, the project engaged in background discussions with ANME and the Tunisian Company for Electricity and Gas (STEG), which were essential for identifying the priority needs for strengthening the public grid capacity for absorbing electricity generated from renewable sources. Consequently, the identified needs were integrated in the technical and financial components of the TSP NAMA.  

The project also contributed to the development of new financial instruments that paved the way for developing new public private partnership (PPP) modalities for implementing the TSP. Importance of this support is critical considering that access to finance for RE projects is still difficult in Tunisia due to several risks and barriers for such investments among financial institutions that cause increased funding costs for offsetting the elevated investment risks. As such, the project also made some contribution for mitigating the investment risks linked to the RE market among private investors. However, limited focus was given to de-risking national financial institutions, which are expected to either provide the necessary investment capital or to serve as financial intermediaries for channelling credit lines provided by international development banks.

Component 3:

The planned GHG emission reduction targets from the two baseline projects (a 10 MW public sector solar photovoltaic plant and a 24 MW private sector wind park) could not be achieved. The project engaged in discussions with STEG and the German International Co-operation Agency (GIZ) that resulted in the preparation of tender documentation for the baseline Tozeur I solar PV plant that was provisionally commissioned in late 2019 but has not been operating at its full nominal power output capacity due to slow progress with commissioning. As a result of the cancellation of the original baseline wind park, the project sponsored wind measurement campaigns at two specific sites with the aim to accelerate the development of wind power capacity in Tunisia.

Sustainability and progress to impact

There are no major risks on the sustainability of the project results due to systematic and long-term support provided by other donors, in particular the German International Co-operation Agency (GIZ).

The immediate impact of the project lies in the broader adoption of climate change mitigation in the energy sector and transformational change, under which Tunisia has successfully upgraded the positioning of NAMAs within the architecture of climate change mitigation for the NDC revision and its future implementation. Limited impact has been attained related to the Tozeur I solar PV park that is still under provisional commissioning. Apart from global environmental benefits, the operation of the solar park has also had a positive financial impact for STEG in terms of payments for the fossil sources of energy replaced by RE.

Collectively with the array of interventions funded by GIZ, the GEF project contributed to sizeable development of RE projects for electricity production in the last 4 years. Under the concession scheme, 500 MW capacity in solar PV and another 500 MW in wind energy were the subject of calls for tenders in 2018 and 2019. This was complemented by 203 MW of solar PV capacity and 120 MW of wind power capacity licensed after three calls for projects in May 2017, May 2018, and July 2019.

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Download document TE TOR for GEF-financed projects.NAMA TSP PIMS 5182 VF.pdf tor English 553.75 KB Posted 32
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Download document Summary_TE_NAMA.pdf summary English 145.28 KB Posted 23
Title NAMA Support for the Tunisian Solar Plan Evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 00081769
Evaluation Plan: 2021-2025, Tunisia
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 03/2022
Planned End Date: 03/2022
Management Response: No
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty
  • 2. Resilience
  • 3. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.3.1 National capacities and evidence-based assessment and planning tools enable gender-responsive and risk-informed development investments, including for response to and recovery from crisis
  • 2. Output 2.1.1 Low emission and climate resilient objectives addressed in national, sub-national and sectoral development plans and policies to promote economic diversification and green growth
SDG Goal
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
SDG Target
  • 7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
  • 7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • 7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
Evaluation Budget(US $): 27,000
Source of Funding: Project Budget
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 27,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Dalibor Kysela Evaluator
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: NAMA Support for the Tunisian Solar Plan
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Climate Change
Project Type: EA
GEF Phase: GEF-1
GEF Project ID: 5340
PIMS Number: 5182
Key Stakeholders: AMNE (National Agency for Energy)
Countries: TUNISIA
Lessons
1.

Project Design

The project was formulated in line with the GEF fundamental operational principle of incremental cost funding under which the GEF funds are used towards the removal of barriers to implementation of baseline projects and upscaling of RE investments through the TSP. However, the EOP indicators at the level of the project objective were set in terms of quantities of energy generated and related GHG emission reductions from operation of the baseline projects. This is a self-contradiction: on one hand, the EOP targets depend on operation of the baseline projects, and on the other hand, the baseline projects are owned by third parties for which the GEF project thus does not have control over commissioning progress.


2.

Indicators

This experience from this project shows that assumptions about fast progress towards operationalisation of baseline projects within 1-2 years after the GEF project inception could prove to be not realistic, as there is usually an array of internal and external circumstances and factors that influence progress towards commissioningbaseline projects. The takeaway lesson is that it is safer to set EOP indicators and targets in terms of post-project energy generated  quantities and related GHG emission reductions rather than to make unrealistic assumptions about the environmental benefits from baseline investments during the GEF project implementation period.


3.

Framework

The project design was not optimal as it did not contain activities for implementing the planned outputs. The project team that was finally in place after a relatively long recruitment process had to spend considerable amount of time in developing sets of activities for the planned outputs. Therefore, while absence of prescribed activities in the project design provides some level of flexibility, it takes considerable amount of time to develop a reasonable set of activities for implementation, which may instil important delays in project delivery.


Findings
1.

National priorities and country driven-ness

The objective of the project is consistent with the voluntary commitments of the Government of Tunisia as expressed in the Voluntary Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) of Tunisia submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat in 2010. Furthermore, it is clearly aligned with the Second and Third National Communications to the UNFCCC, submitted in 2014, and 2019, respectively, as well as with the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), submitted in 2016. The project is also fully consistent with the country’s long-term energy diversification strategy as expressed in the revised TSP that calls for efficient use of energy and specifically the use of indigenous RE sources. Since 2012, the strategy has been backed by gradual development of a new legislative framework more supportive to various kinds of private developers. In May 2015, the Tunisian Parliament passed Law No. 12 concerning electricity production from renewable sources. This legislation updated Tunisia’s prior regulatory framework governing renewable producers’ network access dated from 2009. The Law aims to boost private sector investments and liberalise regulations to facilitate the production, network access and export of electricity generated by renewables. In May 2019, Law No. 2015-12 was amended to Law 2019-47 in order to allow corporate power purchase agreements. Last but not least, the project is also aligned with concurrent large-scale RE generation programmes such as Desertec and the Mediterranean Solar Plan.


2.

Theory of Change

The project is not based on an explicit theory of change (ToC) to specify how the project will contribute to higher level change, as ToC was not required for the formulation of GEF-5 projects. However, the project was formulated using essential elements of the DREI methodology, considering that one of the principal challenges for scaling-up RE investments in developing countries is to lower the financing costs that affect renewables’ competitiveness against fossil fuel technologies. The project’s activities were expected to contribute to a change in market conditions that would allow effective mobilization and channelling of investments into renewable energies and low-carbon initiatives. The project is based on a premise that lowering barriers to the broader adoption of RE energy sources through finance risk reduction and increased profitability of RE investments, accompanied with increased knowledge and demand for RE technologies, create grounds for behavioural change and market strengthening. The Project Document provides definition of outcomes and outputs but does not contain a list of specific activities leading to the outputs. Instead, activities are only outlined in a general manner under each project outcome. Although the project design appears to be logical and rational, the absence of the defined activities does not enable to see the entire project results chain and hierarchy. According to the interviews with the stakeholders, the incomplete theory of change created some implementation delays at the beginning of the project implementation, namely that the project team had to define the activities for implementation of the outputs that should have been defined in the Project Documents.


3.

Gender responsiveness of the project design

The project does not contain any specific provisions for addressing gender issues because, at the time of project formulation, there were no clear guidelines on including gender-relevant actions. Although all UNDP/GEF projects approved since 1 July 2014 are required to carry out a gender analysis, no specific gender analysis was conducted under the project. Nevertheless, gender considerations are contained in the set of sustainable development criteria and indicators developed under Outcome 2 that cover aspects relating to gender equality, empowerment of women, and energy poverty.


4.

Environmental and Social Safeguards

At the formulation stage, the project was subject to the mandatory environmental and social screening procedure (ESSP). The results of the ESSP are summarized in Annex A.2 of the Project Document, that put the project into Category 2 with the need for further review and management of possible environmental and social benefits, impacts, and/or risks, predominantly indirect or very long-term risks that are difficult to directly identify and assess. The ESSP concluded that the two baseline projects (Tozeur solar PV and Gabes wind park) had been subject to standard environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures and that the GEF project would put in place environmental and social safeguard guidelines to ensure that future investment projects are fully assessed in this regard. It was expected that gender issues would also be addressed under the development of the environmental and social safeguard (ESS) guidelines for RE projects. Although the development of environmental and social safeguard guidelines was one of the planned results (Output 2.8), it was not prioritized in the initial 2 years of the project, and its implementation actually started as a follow-up to the mid-term review (MTR), through part of the revision of Decree 1991-2005 related to categories of RE investment projects subject to environmental impact studies. Despite that procurement of consultancy services for preparation of the ESS guidelines was initiated by the project team, insufficient feedback from ANPE on the procurement documentation prevented timely completion of this task before the project operational closure.


5.

Project Design/Formulation

This section provides a descriptive assessment of the achieved results. In addition, several evaluation criteria are rated in line with the requirements for Terminal Evaluations for UNDP/GEF projects. The project was conceptualized in 2013-2014 when the NAMAs were still the central policies and voluntary actions that individual countries proposed to undertake as part of their obligations under the UNFCCC and in terms of commitments to reduce GHG emissions. The Paris Agreement (adopted at COP21) introduced the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) of individual countries to achieve the global objective of keeping the increase in global average temperature below 2 degree Celsius (preferably to 1.5 degree Celsius) compared to pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement has significantly changed the positioning of NAMAs in the global climate change mitigation architecture as shown in Display 1 below.


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