Egypt prepares for a renewable energy revolution

Egypt is expanding its solar and wind power generation rapidly. Part of the government’s plans to diversify the energy mix by rapidly expanding the country’s renewable energy capacity,  Egypt has set targets to increase its renewable energy capacity to 20 per cent by 2022 and to 42 per cent by 2035.

Daily sunshine levels range between 9 and 11 hours per day, while median wind speeds reach 8-10 meters per second on the Red Sea coast, and 6-8 meters per second on both the south-west banks of the Nile and southern part of the Western Desert.

Solar and wind are expected to take the place of hydro as the drivers of the country’s renewables mix. Hydro is the country’s most mature form of renewable energy and made up around half of national power in the 1960s and 1970s. While it is still the largest form of renewable energy in the power mix, with an installed capacity of 2800 MW, it is expected to be eclipsed by solar and wind by FY 2021/22.

Egypt’s minister of electricity and renewable energy, announced in mid-October that the country will inaugurate the 1.4-GW Benban Solar Park by November 2019. Located in the Aswan Governorate in Upper Egypt, the solar park has attracted some $2 billion in investment, with around 30 companies already establishing energy projects and commercial operations at the site.

An important aspect of Benban’s success has been the government’s commitment to purchase electricity produced at the site for the next 25 years, which has helped to incentivize foreign companies. The announcement of the official opening at Benban comes at a time when other renewable projects are being expanded.

On October 14 this year, construction officially began on the 250-MW West Bakr wind farm, located 30 km north-west of the town of Ras Ghareb on the east coast. A total of 96 turbines will be constructed at the site, which will produce enough electricity to power 350,000 homes once fully operational in 2021.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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