Egypt’s Benban solar power park offers substantial benefits for Africa: AfDB report

MENA , Thursday 10 Nov 2022

The Benban solar power park, which is located in the "Jewel of the Nile" Aswan in Upper Egypt, is one of the largest solar power parks in the world.

Engineers walk next to solar panels at Benban Solar Park, one of the world s largest solar power plant in the world, in Aswan, Egypt, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. AP


The Benban solar power park benefits from the country’s unique geographic location between latitudes 22 and 31.5 north.

It puts Egypt at the heart of the global solar belt and makes it one of the richest countries in terms of solar power, according to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) released in line with the COP27 climate conference that is currently in session in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Benban, located near the village by the same name, extends over an area of 8,843 acres on the Aswan-Cairo desert road.

Egypt built Benban as a mega national project within the strategy developed by the country's New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) that targets producing 22 percent of the country’s electricity from clean resources in 2022 while eyeing raising its share of renewable energy in the country’s electricity mix to reach 42 percent by 2035.

“First time I came here, there was nothing, but sand. Yet, we saw an opportunity in the city’s sun turning it into clean energy. Benban is one of the largest solar parks in the world that has millions of solar panels that provide clean energy for more than one million Egyptian homes”, said Mostafa Abdel-Fattah, the project manager.

Benban Solar Park produces 3.8 TWh of power per year.

The site includes 34 solar power plants under construction with a capacity of 50 MW for each, while the total energy generated by the sun is equivalent to 90 percent of the electric power generated by the High Dam.

The project provides 20,000 job opportunities during the two years construction period, with 6,000 permanent jobs in companies that are engaged in its operations.

Engineer Hadeer Khalifa, the site performance and monitoring analyst, has worked on the project since its start in 2018.

“At the beginning, my colleagues warned me that the work conditions in the site are very challenging because it is located in the desert and its high temperatures. But, I said to them that it's Okay. I wanted to try. And I have developed myself over the past four years," Khalifa said.

“I have learnt a lot and gained massive experience from the site’s engineers, workers, and the companies that I have been working with. It is really amazing”, Khalifa said.

Nearly 40 specialised companies in renewable energy production were selected by the NREA authority under the POT investment model with a usufruct right maturity of 25 years.

The Benban site also includes a Gas Insulated Stations (GIS), the first of its kind to be established in Egypt. 

Benban Solar Park is set to play a significant role in the power map in Africa as a role model of generating clean power, which is one of the core objectives of the UN’s global sustainable development goals (SDGs).

AfDB contributed to funding three projects in Benban Solar Park - namely Alcazar 1, Alcazar Delta, Shapoorji.

Each project entails the design, construction, and operation of a 50MW solar PV power project implemented under the Egyptian Solar Photovoltaic Feed-in Tariff Program Round-2.

The project cost for each is estimated at $73 million, which was financed by 72 percent senior debt and 28 percent equity.

IFC is the mandated lead arranger of the transaction.

AFDB provide funding of approximately $12 million in each project jointly with other DFIs. 

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