The first phase of operations in the project to connect electricity grids between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is set to start in 2021, Egypt's Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker said at the Al-Ahram Foundation Energy Conference on Monday.
The minister said that work is ongoing on the project, which will use a direct current system at a capacity of 400/500kV/ 3,000 megawatts, describing the project as an ideal model for electricity linkage due to the difference in peak hours of electricity usage between the two countries.
"The project is proceeding according to its scheduled timeline," the minister said.
Shaker said that Egypt has also signed an MoU to link electricity grids with Cyprus and Greece, which makes the country an electricity linkage centre connecting three continents.
The minister also said that there are studies being conducted on linking electricity grids with the southern part of the African continent to benefit from its huge capacity in hydroelectric energy.
"The Egyptian government has adopted a national strategy to make Egypt an international hub for energy trade and distribution," Shaker said, adding that Egypt is in a good position to achieve this due to its strategic geographical location as a transcontinental country.
In 2015, Cairo and Riyadh signed an agreement to connect the two country's electricity grids with funding from a loan from the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development.
A report prepared by the Egyptian parliament’s energy affairs committee said that the agreement primarily aims to boost the electricity-generating capacity of both countries.
The two electricity grids of Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be connected via three stations – with the first in the Egyptian city of Badr and the other two in the Saudi cities of Medina and Tabuk.
Three stations will also be linked via aerial lines and marine cables across the Gulf of Aqaba and will help connect the two electricity grids of the two countries and boost their total power-generation capacity to more than 90,000 megawatts.
The project will help exchange energy between the two countries in peak hours, to a maximum of 3,000 megawatts, as well as help them export surpluses in electricity.
Egypt has been working to upgrade its power capacity and renewable energy projects in order to meet rising power demands.
In 2015, Egypt signed a €8 billion ($9 billion) deal with the German energy giant to build three high efficiency combined-cycle power plants and 12 wind power installations at a capacity of 16.4 gigawatts.
The project, which is underway, would boost Egypt’s power generation capacity by around 50 percent by 2018.
Earlier this month, Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to officially launch work on Egypt's first-ever nuclear power plant at Dabaa on the north coast.
The Dabaa agreement stipulates Russia will build four-reactors which will produce 4,800 megawatts at 1,200 megawatts per reactor. The first reactor is expected to begin operation in 2024. The project is expected to be completed in 12 years at a cost of $25 billion.