Tunisia Launches Power Modernization Initiative with Berkeley Lab Support

June 29, 2023

Naïm Darghouth, a research scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), recently returned from a yearlong international assignment helping to launch “Power Tunisia,” a $58 million initiative supporting Tunisia’s transition to advanced energy systems. The work is part of an interagency agreement between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Tunisia is emblematic of the challenges many countries face in modernizing their power systems. Fossil fuels provide nearly all electricity generation, which struggles to keep pace with growing demand, and grid instability hampers economic growth. In 2022, the Government of Tunisia adopted an energy transition framework with a goal to incorporate 35% renewable energy by 2030 – a tenfold renewables increase in less than a decade.

Naïm Darghouth, Berkeley Lab scientist, poses next to a dog in Tunisia.USAID tapped Berkeley Lab’s partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to support Tunisia’s energy transition. In addition to providing targeted technical assistance to the state-owned utility and National Agency for Energy Management, researchers also laid the groundwork for Power Tunisia, a large implementation project.

“USAID approached me in 2021 about a one-year assignment to support the launch of Power Tunisia,” Darghouth explained. “I have extensive international experience and I am of Tunisian heritage, so I was well-positioned to serve as the liaison between Berkeley Lab researchers, USAID/Tunisia, and local stakeholders.” Darghouth’s past work includes projects in Ghana, Vietnam, Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.

As USAID’s senior activity manager for Power Tunisia, Darghouth provided technical oversight for the project, assisting with its design, evaluation, and implementation, and worked to secure important buy-in from governmental stakeholders.

“Ultimately, this project will be instrumental in building Tunisia’s in-country capacity for energy efficiency and grid modernization, and supporting its clean energy transition,” Darghouth said.