A mega project that is being called the “New High Dam” (link in Arabic) could potentially put Egypt on the solar energy map of the world. In mid-February, one of the 32 power plants of the Benban Solar Park started operating with a capacity of 50 megawatts. According to Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Authority, Mohamed Khayat, construction on the remaining power plants that will make up the Benban Solar Park is expected to start by mid-2018.
The solar park is spread over 37.2 square kilometers (14.4 square miles), and is subdivided into 32 separate plots arranged in four rows, with each plot ranging in size from 0.3 square kilometers (0.12 square miles) to one square kilometer (0.39 square mile). The plots will be allocated to 13 companies that will be part of the Solar Park, to engineer a total of 32 plants. Aiming to reach somewhere between 1.6 and two gigawatt of solar power by mid-2019, the Benban Solar Park will receive no incentives. Bound by a 25-year contract, the complex will sell its electricity at $78 per megawatt-hour to the the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company.
Egypt’s electric power supply has traditionally been heavily dependent on thermal and hydropower. In 2013, 91 percent of electric power generation relied on oil and gas, 7.5 percent from hydro, and 1.5 percent from wind and other resources. Benban Solar Park coupled with its hydro-counterpart, the Aswan High Dam, would potentially result in large-scale production of renewable energy, together generating 20 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2020.
Other than the environmental impact, the Benban Solar Park will also have a socioeconomic dimension for a population of over three million seeking job opportunities. The $4 billion project will provide at least 500 jobs during both construction and operation phases of the first power plant. The Benban Solar Park will provide an additional 1,500 jobs once it is completed, with three other power plants in November.
Just las week, Revolta Egypt, a developer of electric vehicles (EV) charging infrastructure and other EV-related projects, gave Egypt its first EV charging station in the congested capital, Cairo. Also going inline with Egypt’s 2020 plan, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is adopting EV technology for its environmentally-friendly aspects, and its cost-effectiveness in terms of maintenance.