Egypt, with its strategic geographical location, is endowed with vast amounts of solar energy that could be harnessed for power generation and other applications. The country's commitment to diversifying its energy mix has brought significant attention to its solar energy potential.
Solar Energy Potential
Egypt is positioned favorably for solar energy production, enjoying 3000-3500 hours of sunshine annually, with a global horizontal irradiance of 2000-3200 kWh/m2/year, according to recent studies by the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA). The western desert, especially, shows immense potential for solar energy, receiving an average daily solar radiation of 7-8 kWh/m2/day.
Government Policies and Initiatives
The Egyptian government has made substantial strides in fostering an environment conducive to renewable energy development. They have set an ambitious target to procure 42% of the country's total installed power capacity from renewable sources by 2035. As a part of the Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy, the government plans to install 3.5 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity by 2027.
In line with this objective, the government has embarked on large-scale projects such as the Benban Solar Park, which is the world's largest solar park with a total capacity of 1.8 GW, and the Kom Ombo Solar Plant with a projected capacity of 500 MW upon completion in 2024. The government has also started investing in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, with the Kuraymat and Kom Ombo CSP plants each having a capacity of 140 MW.
Private Sector and Foreign Investments
Foreign investment in Egypt's solar sector is also noteworthy. Companies like Infinity Solar, EETC, and Orascom, along with international players such as Scatec, Acciona, and Masdar, have invested billions in the sector.
The engagement of the private sector in renewable energy projects has been made possible through the BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) scheme. The Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) program, launched in 2014, has also attracted substantial investment by providing incentives for electricity generation from renewable sources.
Employment and Economic Implications
The solar energy sector in Egypt also holds significant promise for job creation. The Benban Solar Park, for instance, has created around 10,000 jobs during its construction phase.
Additionally, the sector's expansion could contribute significantly to the national economy. The construction and operation of the Kom Ombo Solar Plant alone are expected to add around $60 million to the Egyptian economy.
Despite the significant potential and the proactive role of the government, the solar energy sector in Egypt faces several challenges. These include the complex and time-consuming process of land allocation, the high cost of PV modules and related equipment, inadequate grid infrastructure, and the lack of skilled human resources.
Egypt could become a global leader
In conclusion, Egypt's solar energy sector has witnessed substantial growth over the past decade, driven by government initiatives and investment from the private sector. However, to fully harness its solar potential and meet its renewable energy targets, Egypt needs to address the challenges facing the sector. With the right measures in place, Egypt could become a global leader in solar energy, bringing about significant economic and environmental benefits.
Timeline of activities
16.10.2022: TAQA Power commissioned the largest solar power plant in Sharm El-Sheikh, aligning with the Egyptian government's push towards clean energy.
18.10.2022: Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi affirmed the country's vision to become a regional hub for producing and exporting renewable energy.
01.12.2022: Eight companies entered the bidding process for a 20 MW solar power project in Hurghada, Egypt.
04.12.2022: Greece connected its electricity grid with Egypt's to receive wind and solar power via a submarine cable.
17.12.2022: Creative Power Solutions and Absolicon are investing €5.4 million to establish a solar thermal collector production plant in Sadat City, Egypt.
20.12.2022: Germany's Facility Investing for Employment (IFE) signed a €2.7 million grant agreement with Creative Power Solutions AG for the construction of a solar thermal collector factory in Egypt.
31.12.2022: The first phase of a solar energy station at Misr Station in Cairo was inaugurated.
08.01.2023: AMEA Power Ltd. reached financial close for two major clean energy projects in Egypt, a 500MW Abydos solar plant and a 500MW Amunet wind farm.
10.01.2023: Egypt's Finance Minister confirmed the sustainable sovereign financing framework, which will enhance the 'green recovery' capabilities.
12.01.2023: KarmSolar secured $3 million in debt financing for the development of the Farafra Solar Grid.
18.01.2023: MENA could become the world's second-largest electrolyser installer by 2040, according to the Middle East Solar Industry Association.
23.02.2023: Egypt's GAFI collaborated with Invest India under the 'SolarX Grand Challenge' to foster African entrepreneurship in solar energy.
07.03.2023: Industrial solar power installations in Africa saw a 60% growth in 2022.
31.03.2023: Mytilineos considered investing in solar power plants and battery storage stations in Egypt.
14.04.2023: Egyptian Resorts Company approved the construction of a 50-MVA solar power plant in Sahl Hasheesh, Hurghada.
08.05.2023: ACWA Power inked a $123 million financing agreement to develop a 200 MW solar power plant in Aswan, Egypt.
19.05.2023: Egyptian researchers developed an innovative hole transport layer (HTL) for inverted perovskite solar cells.
01.06.2023: A solar-powered water desalination plant commenced operations in Marsa Alam, Egypt.
01.06.2023: Elsewedy Electric T&D secured a contract to construct the 36 MWp D'jermaya solar power plant in Chad.
Regional distribution of solar plants
Benban Solar Park in Aswan is the largest solar energy project in the world and is expected to generate up to 1,600 megawatts of energy upon completion.
Abydos - AMEA Power Ltd. has reached financial close for a 500MW Abydos solar plant in this region.
Farafra - Egyptian solar energy firm KarmSolar is developing the Farafra Solar Grid to provide affordable, reliable solar energy to the region.
Sharm El-Sheikh - TAQA Power, a subsidiary of TAQA Arabia, has commissioned the largest solar power plant in the region. It's expected to supply 30% of the power load in the Nabq tourist region.
Hurghada - Egyptian Resorts Company (ERC) has approved the construction of a 50-MVA solar power plant in Sahl Hasheesh.
Marsa Alam - KarmWater, a division of KarmSolar, has started operating a solar-powered water desalination plant in Marsa Alam.
Cairo - The first phase of a solar energy station at Misr Station in Cairo has been inaugurated by the Chairman of the National Railways Authority.
Sadat City - Switzerland-based Creative Power Solutions (CPS) and Absolicon are investing to establish a solar thermal collector production plant in Sadat City.
Companies involved in the solar energy projects in Egypt
TAQA Arabia - A subsidiary of Qalaa Holdings (formerly Citadel Capital), TAQA Arabia is the largest private sector energy distribution company in Egypt. The company operates in the fields of natural gas distribution, power generation & distribution, and marketing of petroleum products.
AMEA Power - AMEA Power is an independent power producer that develops, owns, and operates thermal and renewable energy projects in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The company is part of the UAE-based Al Nowais Investments.
Creative Power Solutions (CPS) - This Swiss company is known for its innovation in the field of sustainable energy solutions. They focus on integrated renewable energy solutions, energy efficiency, and waste-to-energy projects.
Absolicon - A Swedish company, Absolicon is a leading provider of concentrated solar thermal (CSP) technology. The company develops and manufactures solar concentrators for heat, steam, and electricity.
Egyptian Resorts Company (ERC) - While not a traditional energy company, ERC is a master developer of international standard integrated resort communities in Egypt. It seems they are incorporating renewable energy sources into their infrastructure.
KarmSolar - This is an Egyptian solar technology & integration company that delivers innovative solar solutions to the agricultural, industrial, tourism, and business sectors. They have a particular focus on off-grid energy solutions. KarmWater is one of its divisions that focuses on water-related solutions.