Egypt possesses an abundance of land, sunny weather, and high wind speeds, making it a prime location for renewable energy projects. The renewable energy equipment market is potentially worth billions of dollars. The Egyptian government is cognizant of the need for a sustainable energy mix to both address increasing demand, and to move to a more environmentally sustainable and diverse electricity sector. The 2035 Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy, which builds on previous strategies, emphasizes the importance of renewable energy. Egypt is working on increasing the supply of electricity generated from renewable sources to 20% by 2022 and 42% by 2035, with wind providing 14 percent, hydropower 1.98 percent, photovoltaic (PV) 21.3 percent, wind 14 percent, concentrating solar power (CSP) 5.52 percent, and conventional energy sources 57.33 percent by 2035. This plan is currently being revised and waiting the approval of the supreme council for energy to reflect 33 percent of energy generated from renewable energy by 2025, 48 percent by 2030, 55 percent by 2035, and 61 percent by 2040. This is believed to be a very optimistic plan. The private sector is expected to deliver most of this capacity.
From December 2015 to December 2018, a total of 28229 MW was added to the grid, resulting in a total installed capacity of 55 GW, including both conventional and renewable energy sources. This has been achieved through a fast-track project that worked on installing 3636 MW of electricity in 8.5 months and is worth USD 2.7 billion. Another project was signed with Siemens in March 2015 which added 14400 MW in 2.5 years by building 3 mega combined power cycle stations. By converting old simple cycle power plants to combined cycle, another 1850 MW were installed.
As part of the country’s plan to become an energy hub, Egypt has constructed several energy interconnectors. There is one with Jordan with a capacity of 250 MW, which is expected to increase to 450-500 MW. There is a smaller one with Sudan with a capacity of 80 MW, which is expected to increase to 300 MW. The third interconnector with Libya has a current capacity of 200 MW. The country is also working on finalizing an interconnector with Saudi Arabia. In 2019, an MOU was signed to establish an interconnector with Cyprus and Greece that will be divided into 2 phases of 1000 MW of capacity, providing a total of 2000 MW. The agreement is currently under technical study. Another interconnector is under study with Iraq via Jordan, transferring around 100-150 MW in the first phase and reaching 500-600 MW capacity in the second phase.
The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy has worked to upgrade Egypt’s transmission grids and went from 2364 kilometers of total length of 500 KV grid in 2014 to 6006 kilometers of total length of 500 KV grid by end of 2020. Moreover, in 2014 Egypt had 18 substations of 9800 MVA total 500 KV capacity. By end of 2020, the country had a total of 48 substations of 5450MVA total 500 KV capacity by adding 30 substations with a total of 44250 MVA, more than 4 times the existing one in 2014. There are 7 existing grid control centers, and the government is currently adding 6 new ones. Two of them were completed after 2014, with 4 under construction that will be completed by the end of 2021. There is a national control center at the strategic command headquarters in the New Administrative Capital that was awarded to Siemens in December 2020, which will be completed in 18 months.
The government of Egypt invested around EGP 24 billion (around USD 1.5 billion) in the distribution grid between 2017 and 2020. It currently needs around EGP 19.5 billion (USD 1.2 billion) to upgrade its distribution networks. The government is also working on modernizing 47 distribution control centers around the country. There are 19 centers under construction: 14 with Schneider Electric, 1 with General Electric, and 4 with JICA.
As part of the efforts done by the government to regulate energy consumption, the Ministry of Electricity has started working on replacing 38 million old electricity meters with smart pre-paid ones. There are 10 million units installed and the rest will be installed in the coming 5 years.
Part of Egypt’s Vision 2030 is to increase local content. The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy (MOERE) succeeded in reaching 30 percent local content for wind farms in 2018 and was expected to increase the share to 70 percent by the end of 2020. The ministry was expected to reach 50 percent local content for CSP projects also by the end of 2020.
The New & Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), which falls under the Ministry of Electricity, plays a strategic role in implementing the government’s renewable energy plans. As of the 3rd quarter of FY 2020/2021, Egypt has about 1,375 MW of wind power plants in operation mainly by NREA and one project by the private sector producing around 250 MW. There is 1623 MW of PV energy installed and 140 MW of CSP. There are 2,832 MW of hydro power installed, which is the maximum that can be produced unless the government installs pumper storage stations (still under study). This has contributed to the reduction of 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions. By the end of 2021, there will be 6,378 MW of installed capacity from renewable energy. This is expected to reach 8778 MW by end of 2022 comprising over 7637 square kilometers. The Egyptian government’s renewable energy plan for 2015-2023 includes 3.2 GW of government projects, including 1.25 GW under BOO mechanisms and 920 MW as IPPs.
In the waste to energy (W2E) subsector, Egypt uses 4.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) for W2E. This amount will be able to generate around 300 MW over the coming 5 years.
Electric vehicles are one of the government’s sustainability priorities. As there is a surplus in electricity, the government is working with the private sector to make the subsector price-competitive. For up to 22 KW, it will cost 121 Egyptian piasters (USD 7.5 cents) as a selling price from distribution companies and the tariff proposed will be 169 Egyptian piasters/k.w.h (USD 10 cents) without the use of the place occupancy fees and 189 Egyptian piasters/k.w.h. (USD 12 cents) with the use of the place occupancy fees. Over 50 KW, it might reach 375 Egyptian piasters (USD 23.4 cents).
There is a huge focus from the government on water desalination projects, and as it requires electric power, the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy is working closely with the Ministry of Housing and the aim is to have 2.8 million cubic feet of water per day in 2025.
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Egypt enjoys excellent wind along the Gulf of Suez with an average wind speed of 10.5 m/sec. It is just one of 38 countries in the world with a published National Wind Atlas. Egypt’s wind-generated power capacity is expected to reach 7 GW by 2022, making it an important contributor to the renewable energy mix.
Since 2001, a series of large-scale wind farms with a total capacity of 1.2 GW were established in cooperation with Germany (KFW), Denmark (DANIDA), Spain (Siemens Gamesa), and Japan (JICA).
In the Gulf of Suez, a 540 MW project is under construction, with another 580 MW project in financing. In addition, a feasibility study is underway for a 200 MW project in the West Nile. More projects are under preparation in cooperation with Germany, AFD, EIB and the EU (200 MW), MASDAR (200 MW), Germany and AFD (200 MW), and Japan (200 MW).
The Egyptian government recently allocated around 7,845 square kilometers in the Gulf of Suez region and the Nile Banks for NREA to implement additional wind energy projects. The 262.5 MW Ras Ghareb wind farm project near the Gulf of Suez was inaugurated in December 2019. Executed by a consortium led by the French company Engie (Engie 40%, Toyota Tsusho 40%, and Orascom 20%), the farm will supply power to approximately 500,000 households. It is the first project in wind energy to follow the BOO (Build-Own-Operate) model. Additionally, Lekela’s West Bakr Wind Farm located Gulf of Suez will generate 250 MW of clean energy. This project is a BOO (Build, Own, and Operate).
The government is working on refurbishing and repowering NREA’s wind farms in Zaafarana and Gabal El Zeit with additional pipeline capacity. Preliminary estimates indicated that Zaafarana projects can yield a significantly higher energy and have improved efficiency at a much lower cost with the refurbishment of some turbines according to the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy. This farm includes around 700 turbines.
Egypt’s Solar Atlas states that Egypt is considered a “sun belt” country with 2,000 to 3,000 kWh/m2/year of direct solar radiation. The sun shines 9-11 hours a day from north to south, with few cloudy days.
The first solar thermal power plant was built in 2011 in Kuraymat. It has a total installed capacity of 140 MW, with a solar share of 20 MW based on parabolic-trough technology integrated with a combined-cycle power plant using natural gas. The power plant was financed from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). A 10 MW power plant has been operating in Siwa since 2015, and the remaining plants are expected to be implemented and operated consecutively. The 37 square kilometer Benban Solar Park in Egypt’s Western Desert was completed in 2019 with financing provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and other international financial institutions. Composed of 32 individual plants, each producing 20-50 MW, and four substations, the Park generates almost 1.5 GW of power.
The latest price of buying solar-produced electricity is between 2 and 3 cents/k.w.h. This price went down from 7-8 cents/k.w.h., making solar energy ore affordable.
- Wind turbines
- Wind towers
- Photovoltaic panels and related technologies
- Concentrating solar power equipment and technologies
- Transmission grids
- Green energy
- Energy efficiency
- Electric vehicles
- Water desalination
In 2012, the Egyptian government approved the Egyptian Solar Plan, which includes adding 3.5 GW (2.8 GW CSP and 700 MW PV) of solar energy by 2027. The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy signed seven memoranda of understanding worth USD 500 million for solar and wind projects in Egypt. The government announced an interim target for the first regulatory period (2015-2017) to contract 4,300 MW of both solar and wind energy, and a feed-in tariff (FIT) which will allow Egypt to procure 4.3 GW of solar and wind power production by 2017. Its breakdown is as follows: 300 MW for small solar systems, 2,000 MW of medium- and large-size solar plants, and 2,000 MW of medium- and large-size wind plants.
According to the Wind and Solar Atlas, the East and West Nile areas have the potential to produce around 31,150 MW of wind power and 52,300 MW of solar. Egypt is also considering financing options to conduct feasibility studies for the following projects:
- Solar-thermal power plant using CSP technology for both electricity generation and water desalination. Solar-thermal power plants for industrial purposes.
- Designing a technical-financial mechanism to promote the use of solar water heaters in Egypt’s residential sector. Local manufacturing of renewable energy equipment.
- New and Renewable Energy Authority
- Egyptian Electricity Holding Co.
- Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co.
- Egypt State Information Service
- American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt
- Egyptian Government Web Portal (http://www.cairo.gov.eg/en/pages/default.aspx)
- International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
Commercial Specialist in charge of the energy sector: Dina Bissada