Construction of a 2000 MW renewable energy project in Tunisia could start by the end of 2016 after its backers said that they would take it forward to the next stage of development.

Low Carbon and Nur Energie are partnering in the development of the TuNur solar power project, which will supply electricity to Europe via a dedicated interconnection cable.

The two companies say that the majority of the project’s feasibility and preliminary licensing has been completed, including an offer of a 2 GW grid connection solution from Terna, the Italian grid operator, for an interconnection point in Italy.

If construction starts in late 2016, the plant – which would use concentrating solar power (CSP) technology – would enter service in late 2018, boosting security of supplies in Europe, said Low Carbon in a statement.

"With the right level of investment, large scale renewable projects such as TuNur can be very competitive in the energy market and demonstrates that renewables make business sense," said Roy Bedlow, chief executive officer at Low Carbon, a renewable energy investment firm. "By harnessing the power of the sun, we can challenge other means of energy generation such as nuclear power or burning fossil fuels, which have multiple, long-term negative effects.

"Large scale solar projects, in Europe and Africa are a vital part of diversifying and securing Europe’s energy supply, while creating a low carbon economy."

Low Carbon recently increased its stake in Nur Energie to become one of the company’s largest shareholders.

Nur Energie joined forces in 2011 with two Tunisian companies – Glory Clean Energy and TOP Oilfield Services – to develop the TuNur project.