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Egypt Is Building One of the Largest Solar Parks in the World

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Six hundred and fifty kilometers (nearly 400 miles in freedom units) south of Cairo, right in the Western Desert, one of the most ambitious solar energy projects in the world is taking shape as we speak. Known as the Benban Solar Park, this facility is meant to produce enough clean energy to power a million homes.

Besides being the largest solar power project currently under development, it’s the first project that combines the efforts of both the Egyptian government and private enterprise; a new strategy they’re trying on for size.

The Benban Solar Park is expected to become operational this year, with 32 power stations and a generation of 1,650 megawatts, which will help the country reach its goal of having 20% of its energy be completely derived from renewables.

This ambitious project is also projected to have a meaningful effect on both the economy and the environment, because Egypt currently relies heavily on fossil fuels. What’s more, almost every power facility is owned by the government. This is where the Benban project stands out, because 13 private enterprises working alongside the Egyptian government means that there’s no room for fuel subsidy schemes, which are a big problem in the country.

In other words, Egypt is working on an economic reform program where the participation of the private sector is heavily promoted and encouraged so that it’s possible to provide quality services for the entire region.

One of the supporters of this reform is the World Bank, which granted a $3 billion loan to help finance the Benban Solar Park. Additionally, the International Finance Corporation division of the World Bank also pledged $653 million, and the Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency provided $210 million in “political risk insurance” for private lenders and investors.

The Arab world faces an important challenge when it comes to universal access to energy, which is why they’re so interested in the rise of renewable energy. This is evidenced in the fact that there are many solar projects underway in this region.

For example, the Ladakh solar farm in India will go live in 2023, and it’s estimated to produce 3,000 megawatts. In Australia, the Yarrabee Park is another great example, and it’s meant to generate 900 megawatts.

In Dubai, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is meant to be the largest single-site solar power facility in the world and will have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts by 2020, with potential to grow to 5,000 megawatts by 2030. In Morocco, the Noor complex is expected to generate 580 megawatts of electricity. These are only just a few solar projects to keep an eye on.

Egypt has a great capacity for solar power because of its climate, but they aren’t solely planning to invest on solar power; they also have plans to build wind farms on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez as well, and a nuclear plant that will be going live in 2026.

In general, Egypt is making momentous investments in renewables, and the hope is that they’ll continue to move away from fossil fuels faster than anticipated.

Ben Schultz's picture

Thank Ben for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on February 6, 2019

Exciting to read about all the solar progress being made in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. Do you have information on what Egypt's solar production is currently?

Ben Schultz's picture
Ben Schultz on February 6, 2019

Sure!

I've actually just spent 5 minutes cleaning up and updating the Wiki entry for Egypt's solar energy:

Egypt has a high solar availability. The total capacity of installed photovoltaic systems is about 4.5 MWp. They are used in remote areas for water pumping, desalination, rural clinics, telecommunications, rural village electrification, etc.[40] The proposed large-scale solar power project Desertec also involves Egypt.

In some areas, the country receives over 4,000 hours of sunshine per year, which is among the highest quantities registered in the world. Due to the sharp population growth and a series of blackouts during the summer caused by a supply shortage, Egyptian demand for solar energy is increasing. However, only 1% of the electricity is produced by solar energy. The majority of solar energy available in the country derives from small-scale projects. The only big projects, up to 10 MW, are constituted by hybrid solar/diesel solutions, which are developed by the Emirati company, Masdar, and Benban Solar Park, which is incidentally the biggest solar installation in the world, although the latter is currently under construction as of February 2019.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Egypt#Solar

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on February 6, 2019

Thaanks for this-- and wow! This project would be an IMMENSE opportunity for the nation's solar, that makes it even more encouraging to hear about. 

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