Toshka solar plant- Photo courtesy of Complete Energy Solutions website Toshka solar plant- Photo courtesy of Complete Energy Solutions website

Egypt on energy transition track

Wed, Mar. 18, 2020
CAIRO – 18 March 2020: Egypt mainly depends, in all its energy-related activities, on three major sources: oil, natural gas and the hydroelectric power generated from the large dam projects over the Nile: the High Dam, Aswan I & Aswan II dams.

The country targets to generate 20 percent renewables in electricity generation by 2022 and to reach 42 percent by 2035.

In addition, it has the potential to generate up to 53 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The Egypt Renewable Energy Outlook report, released earlier, showed that pursuing higher shares of renewable energy could reduce the country’s energy bill by up to $900 million annually in 2030.

Aiming to reach these percentages, the state is taking some steps and attracting investments and partnerships in renewable energy, which in return, helps in energy transition in the country, as the world’s total renewable-based power capacity is expected to increase 50 percent between 2019 and 2024. In response to this shift, utilities have begun a rapid energy transition away from coal.

To clarify, energy transition refers to the global energy sector’s shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption — including oil, natural gas and coal — to renewable energy sources like the wind and sun as well as lithium-ion batteries.

In Egypt, the price of electricity produced by renewable projects has been steadily decreasing across the past several years to become more competitive than conventional fossil fuel sources. This has created strong demand in Egypt from commercial and industrial heavy electricity consumers to have access to electricity from private renewable energy producers.

As mentioned above, Egypt does not only depend on renewable energy, despite working on increasing its percentage, through establishing new and renewable projects, the state also achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas. This came after the country has faced several issues with electricity in 2014.

In the same vein, Egypt announced in 2018 depending on coal in producing energy and directed factories to use it, a step that raised contraversy among environmental activists.

On May 30, 2018, Minister of electricity Mohamed Shaker opened the bids for the Hamrawein power plant, which is located on the Red Sea coast near Safaga. Hamrawein is the first coal-fired plant in Egypt with a production capacity of 6,000 megawatts, which makes it the biggest coal power plant in the world.

The state and the consortium working on the project clarified that the plant will be an eco-friendly clean-coal power plant. 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 at full capacity.

This town on the Red Sea, 600 kilometres south-east of Cairo, is dwarfed by other harbours on the route to Suez, but all that will change over the next six years as Egypt builds the world’s largest clean-coal plant.

In accordance with Egypt’s 2030 Agenda, which aims at reducing carbon dioxide emissions and shrinking Egypt’s carbon footprint, the plant will use ultra super-critical low NOx pulverised-coal burners to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the 2018 New and Renewable Energy Authority report, the total new energy capacity produced in Egypt is 4,100 megawatts, divided into 2832 megawatts of hydropower, 1,000 megawatts of wind energy. This is in addition to projects under implementation with a capacity of 370 megawatts and projects under study with a capacity of 700 megawatts.Moreover, 312 megawatts of solar energy will be added, as well as projects under implementation with a capacity of 2000 MW and others under study with a capacity of 770 MW.

According to the indicators of the World Bank, Egypt three countries (Tunisia - Emirates - Egypt) brought about developments in the regulatory frameworks for renewable energy in the period between 2010 - 2017. Egypt aims to activate regional cooperation in the field of electric energy to achieve sustainable regional development through electricity linkages with neighboring countries in the east (Jordan), west (Libya), and south (Sudan).

This is in addition to signing of a memorandum of understanding for electrical connection with Cyprus and Greece in Europe; thus linking with Africa and Europe will motivate the absorption of a huge amout of electric energy that will be produced from renewable energy sources in the continent.

In attempt to increase the percentage of generating power through renewable energy, Egypt built a hydroelectricity power plant, a nuclear power plant, a wind farm, and a solar power plant.

Hydroelectricity: Moussa Water Spring (Ayoun Moussa)

Four main hydroelectric generating stations are currently operating in Egypt, the Aswan Low Dam, the Esna Dam, the Aswan High Dam, and the Naga Hamady Barrages.

In July 2018, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, announced 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 according to the highest of standards.

Furthermore, during his meeting with the Energy and Environment Committee of the House of Representatives on July 3, 2017, Shaker said that the electricity that will be produced from this power plant will be used to develop Sinai.

Shaker suggested that the power station will be able to feed all 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 two new stations for pumping and storage in Luxor will produce electricity with high capacity.

Nuclear: El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant

In 2014, Egypt and Russia announced their cooperation in the nuclear power field. On November 19, 2015, an agreement was finally signed between Cairo and Moscow, which allows Russia to build a nuclear power plant in the city of Dabaa, with Russia extending a $25 billion loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction. The loan will cover 85 percent of the plant, with Egypt funding the remaining 15 percent.

According to the deal, Russian nuclear firm Rosatom will finance and construct four third-generation reactors, with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW) each, for a total of 4,800 MW. The plant will be built on approximately 12,000 feddans and is expected to create over 50,000 job opportunities.

Nuclear energy is part of the government’s plan to diversify its energy sources to prevent any future crisis resulting from shortages in electricity.

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 of 10.5 miles per second. This has led the Egyptian government to aim to provide 12 percent 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 includes 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, while the second and third projects will have 110 turbines with a capacity of 220 megawatts and 60 turbines with a capacity of 120 megawatts, respectively. The project was launched in 2015.

Solar power: Benban Solar Park

Benban plant includes 32 stations producing electricity with a capacity of 1,465 megawatts from solar energy.

The project is considered the largest solar power project in the world and was funded by the World Bank with a total value of $653 million. The total value of the project is $2 billion for a total power generation of up to 1600 megawatts. The project is carried out with the participation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a large number of major international companies.

Despite all these procedures, Egypt still has to work intensively on energy transition to accelerate its dependence on the new and renewable energy
 
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