Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
Cycle 5 (2016 Deadline)

Potential of currents along the Tunisia coasts for renewable power generation

PI: Ali Harzallah (, National Institute of Marine Science and Technologies (INSTM)
U.S. Partner: Wassila Thiaw, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Project dates: December 2016 - August 2021

Project Overview:

The project will develop a high-resolution modeling system for marine waters along the Tunisia coasts (Central Mediterranean) using NOAA atmospheric and oceanic forcing fields. The modeling system will provide maps of the marine areas where ocean energy can be potentially used for power generation. The project will provide information on the circulation of water masses along and off the Tunisian coasts. In particular, information on circulation veins (the Atlantic vein, modulated by atmospheric conditions) will be provided for the first time at a high resolution. Additionally, water temperature and salinity maps will be developed, which are important for several of Tunisia’s economic sectors. The model results will be validated by direct observations in the sea using NOAA analytical tools. Once set up, the modeling system will constitute an important modeling platform for marine studies at INSTM.

Results from the project will provide information that may help in the creation of renewable energy alternatives by the Tunisia Electricity Company. Such information combined with that from tides and waves will be of interest for several economic applications, such as implementation of off-shore aquaculture cages, a rapidly increasing activity in Tunisia, and impact studies of coastal infrastructure implementation (e.g., the impact of highly concentrated salt brine from desalinization plants). The INSTM research team will gain knowledge on the use of high-resolution ocean models forced by atmospheric fields (weather and climate) and ocean models/outputs provided by NOAA. The project is a valuable opportunity for building the capacity at INSTM. PhDs, Master's students, and engineers at INSTM will be involved in the project and will ensure the sustainability of such a combined modeling-observation approach at the institution.

Summary of Recent Activities: 

5-195 US Partner Modeling
The team reviews the project models with Dr. Vintzileos during his visit (photo courtesy of Dr. Harzallah).
The project team headed by PI Dr. Ali Harzallah was busy during the first quarter of 2021 on preparing documents and datasets that will be distributed during the final project meeting. Depending on the pandemic situation, the researchers hope to convene the meeting in person in June or July 2021. Besides printed materials, meeting participants will also receive USB flash drives containing the numerical set of simulations performed during the project, as well as numerical versions of the model output maps and the printed documents. The team also continued working on application of the model set up to predict the sea state along the Tunisia coasts, including the marine energy potential. They are now able to predict the amount of sea energy days in advance, and in the coming months they will perform several prediction tests to evaluate the model’s accuracy. Another focus of activity this past quarter has been revision of a paper co-authored with a colleague from NOAA, which should be resubmitted for consideration by the end of April.

As the project moves through its final months, Dr. Harzallah and his colleagues will also continue their investigation of new projects on marine energy, in particular with their partner MEDREC and other organizations in the renewable energy support group they have created. The researchers will also continue exploring the possibility of installing a pilot demonstration project for marine renewable energy extraction. Finally, they will also continue their work on simulations using their predictive model, comparing the results with the actual situation using observations and re-analyses. A no-cost extension has been made through August 2021 to allow more time to hold the final stakeholder dissemination meeting once the COVID situation in Tunisia improves.

Back to PEER Cycle 5 Grant Recipients