Egypt Today delves into the details of its four leading sources of new and renewable energy.
CAIRO – 28 December 2018: Among the most important things that the Egyptian government, under the directions of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi did, did was to focus on building new and renewable energy plants, with the aim of permanently bidding non-renewable energy goodbye.
Most prominently Egypt built a hydroelectricity power plant, a nuclear power plant, a wind farm, and a solar power plant.
Ending the year on a positive note, Egypt Today delves into the details of these four energy sources.
Hydroelectricity: Moussa Water Spring (Ayoun Moussa)
Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, announced July 3, 2018, the establishment of a major power station in Moussa Water Spring (Ayoun Moussa) in Sinai. The station is set to produce 2,640 Mega Watts, feeding all of Sinai with electricity.
During his announcement of the project, Shaker pointed out that a number of alliances have been created to ensure that this project is done to the highest of standards.
Furthermore, during his meeting with the Energy and Environment Committee of the House of Representatives (Parliament) on July 3, 2017, Shaker said that the electricity that will be produced from this power plant will be used to develop Sinai, helping Sinai continue on the path towards development.
Shaker suggested that the power station will be able to feed the whole of Sinai, including the three million houses that will be built by the government as part of their development plan for the area.
Shaker pointed out that there are a number of new projects for pumping and storage of ‘hydro power projects’ to generate energy for the expansion of energy and space for the maximum capacity and approved in the lifting of treated water. There are also two new stations in Luxor for pumping and storage that will produce electricity with high capacity.
With an eye on details and sustainability, Shaker confirmed the importance of up-keeping and servicing the station, especially given the high temperature in the area within which the station is built. He also pointed out that there will be a need to provide electric reserves to accommodate the increase of loads.
The Clean Coal Power Plant, which will be in Moussa Water Springs (Ayoun Moussa), will be the first coal-fired plant in Egypt. Located on the Sinai Peninsula in the Suez region of Egypt, the plant will be developed by Emirati investment company Al Nowais Investments in cooperation with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company.
As it is the first coal plant in Egypt, coal will need to be imported, mainly from South Africa and Indonesia, to ensure that the plant operates to its full capacity.
HSBC is the financial adviser for the project, which will received 70 percent of its finance from Al Nowais Investments and the remaining 30 percent from foreign and local investors, and the Italian firm Technimont will serve as a technical consultant.
In keeping with Egypt’s 2030 Agenda, which includes reducing carbon dioxide emissions and shrinking Egypt’s carbon footprint, to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, the Ayoun Moussa plant will use ultra super-critical low NOx pulverised-coal burners.
Nuclear: El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant
Located approximately 296 kilometers away from Egypt’s capital city, Cairo, in the Matrouh region, El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant is made up of four power units with VVER-1200 reactor (pressurized water reactor) with a total capacity of 4800 Mega Watts.
The power plant, which is designed to power peaceful activities—mainly to desalinate water in Dabaa and El Alamein, is being constructed based on an agreement signed between the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority and construction engineering company JSC Atomstroyexport on December 31, 2016; the agreement came into force on December 11, 2017, during a ceremony attended by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The power plant comes as part of Egypt’s plant to generate more electrical energy and reply more on new and renewable energy sources, and consists of four units. The first unit is expected to be complete by 2026, and is expected to start working during the same year, while the other three phases are scheduled to be complete by 2028.
As part of the deal, Russia will also supply nuclear fuel during the 60-year life cycle of the power plant, will build a special storage facility and supply containers for storing spent nuclear fuel and provide training for individuals working on the plant and maintenance support.
The nuclear power plant, which is the first to be built in Egypt, is also expected to use third-generation nuclear reactions that comply with the latest scientific and technological advancements. To ensure the maximum security for civilians, Egypt is also ensuring that nuclear reactors that are resistant to fault by operators are used and that the designs chosen are the safest available.
In fact, Egypt has opted for the plant that does not have the radiation go through multiple filters and barriers but for another than contains automotic control systems that minimise the probability of accidents. The plant will also have an unprecedented capacity to withstand large incidents and can even stand the collision of a 400-ton aircraft flying at a speed of 150 meters per second.
So far, the Dabaa project has lead to a significant decline in unemployment levels by providing 10,000 new jobs during the eight-year construction phase and more than 4,000 during the operation years.
Furthermore, officials have pointed out time and time again that the nuclear power plant will also lead to the introduction of new industries and will increase production due to the abundance of energy.
Wind energy: Wind turbine farms
As one of only 38 countries worldwide with a published National Wind Atlas, Egypt enjoys strong wind at an average speed on 10.5 miles per second. This has led the Egyptian government to aim to provide 12% of generated electricity (the equivalent of 6.8 gega watts) through wind energy by 2022; this goal comes as part of Egypt’s 2030 strategic plan.
Egypt has accordingly started building the biggest wind farm in the world in the Gabal el-Zeit area of the Red Sea governorate. Due to the project’s massive size, it will include three projects, the first of which was inaugurated in July 2018.
With a total of 300 wind turbines at a total cost of LE 12 billion ($670.64 million), the overall capacity of the three projects is 580 megawatts. The first completed project contains 120 turbines with a capacity of 240 megawatts; meanwhile, the second and third projects will have 110 turbines with a capacity of 220 megawatts and 60 turbines with a capacity of 120 megawatts, accordingly. The project was first launched in 2015.
“Gabal El-Zeit power plant is the largest station in the world in terms of area, number of turbines and capacities generated from the plant,” Osama Noman, project manager, stated in a press release. So far, 460MV have been linked to the national electricity network.
Commenting on the location of the project and its perceived success, Noman confirmed, “The site of Gabal El-Zeit plant is one of the best sites in the world to invest in generating wind power projects.” Norman confirmed that the speed of wind at the site, which reached about 12 meters per second, sometimes reaching 33 meters per second, is an optimum location for such project to be carried out. He also assured that due to the fact that the ground is straight without any humps, hills, curves, or rocks, the plant will be a great success.
Turning to the safety of the project, it must be noted that the government have taken positive steps to ensure the birds that take this route to migrate are safe and sound via implementing migratory bird monitoring systems (radar-operated) that automatically shuts down the turbines in case birds are migrating through the area on which the wind farm is built.
Egypt, which plans to produce 42% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025, has taken positive steps since 2014 to build wind turbines, most of which are imported from Spain.
Solar power: Benban Solar Park
Benban solar park, named after a Nile River village close to the power plant, is set to be the largest solar plant in the world. The power plant will cover Egypt’s electricity needs and edge it forward on its path to becoming the region’s energy hub.
Benban, built in the eastern region of the Sahara Desert, is set to produce between 1.6 and 2.0 GW of solar power by mid-2019.
As it stands, the project has received no incentives. Still, it has signed a 25-year contract with the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), who will buy its electivity at a rate of 7.8¢/kWh, pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar.
Currently, 29 projects have been financed at a total of $1.8 billion, producing almost 1.5 GW of solar power, on the 14.3-square-mile plot of land.
Built on an area that receives some of the best sunlight on the planet, Benban is arguably the second best spot for solar power plants, behind the Chilean desert highlands.
By producing a huge power plant, Egypt is set to reduce the costs of costly power lines, power substations and expensive hardware, which, in turn, is set to lower the cost of electricity.
According to the project’s original analysis, Benban 1.8 GW PV Solar Park, Egypt – Strategic Environmental & Social Assessment, released February 2016, “NREA (New and Renewable Energy Authority) has in turn divided the site into 41 separate but contiguous plots, which it is making available to developers/companies to implement individual projects (the Benban Projects).… Once constructed, Benban will be the world’s largest solar PV park, at an estimated total cost of between $3.5 and $4 billion.”
The report continues, “The 41 projects on the Benban site will be connected to the Egyptian high-voltage network through four new substations, which will be constructed on the site by EETC. These substations will in turn connect to an existing 220 kV line, which passes nearby the Benban site at a distance of approximately 12 km. At a later stage, EETC may also construct an additional connection to the neighboring 500 kV line. EETC will construct the high-voltage connections. NREA has prepared site access roads and on-site roads for the Benban project area.”
- 41 Solar photovoltaic plants; total installed capacity 1.8 GW.
- Related infrastructure including roads, administrative buildings and four high voltage substations.
- A high voltage interconnection.
- Sharing costs, reducing overall price of electricity for government and citizens.
The project’s analysis also looks into the environment, employment, local villages nearby and the effect of the project on them, water supply and usage, and many other factors, concluding that the power plant will have an overall effect on the aforementioned topics.
According to the report, Egypt is expected to generate 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2022.
“The potential is endless,” says Lamya Youssef, head of the EETC, adding, “Because of the enormous increase in (Egypt’s) population, we need large investments in infrastructure, which the government cannot afford on its own. That’s why we need private sector investments.” For Youssef, Egypt can easily generate the 20 percent by 2022.
In July, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) approved $660 million in funding to 13 feed-in tariff (FiT) projects in Benban, near Aswan, according to a statement from the Ministry of International Cooperation. These projects are worth a total of $730 million and have a total capacity of 500 MW.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is also expected to finance a total of 16 solar projects in Egypt at a total capacity of 750 MW. It pledged $500 million in funding framework for the FiT project.
More than 325 MW of Benban is designed to use NEXTracker’s single axis trackers and 64 MW of single axis trackers will be deployed by German Group Mounting Systems GmbH.
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