Scheduling power cuts in Egypt

Ahmed Morsy , Friday 4 Aug 2023

Load-reduction measures to counter power cuts may continue until September.

 Scheduling power cuts
Scheduling power cuts


“Without recent electricity projects we would have had three hours of electricity a day instead of three-hour power cuts,” Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said at a press conference this weekend.

Egypt has built several power stations in the last six years, increasing electricity production to over 30,000 megawatts (MW). According to Cabinet Spokesperson Nader Saad, LE355 billion has been spent on the electricity sector since 2014.

Madbouli, who a week earlier had said that power cuts would end before the beginning of August has now backtracked, saying cuts of “one or two hours” may last until the second or third week of September.

“Given the intense heat wave and its impact on the electricity sector we have no option but to rationalise electricity consumption,” he said.

He announced new contracts for mazut (fuel oil), worth $250-300, to bolster fuel supplies to power plants. The government, he added, has suspended gas exports in an attempt to bolster supplies to power plants.

In 2022, Egypt exported around eight million tons of natural gas, worth $8.4 billion. In August last year, to reduce domestic consumption of gas by 15 per cent and redirect it towards export to generate foreign currency, the government formulated a nationwide energy rationing plan. At the time the prime minister said that replacing 15 per cent of natural gas used for electricity generation with mazut and diesel would bring in $450 million per month.

According to Madbouli, 85 per cent of the energy required to operate power plants is sourced from fossil fuels. The remaining 15 per cent is covered by solar and other renewable sources.

With the onset of the current heat wave on 17 July daily consumption of electricity surged, leading to new attempts to rationlise its use. The prime minister has urged stringent measures to conserve power, including reducing lighting in streets and government buildings. Government employees in bodies which do not provide direct services to the public will work from home each Sunday during August, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been told to ensure all football matches take place before sunset to reduce electricity consumption at sports facilities.

Earlier guidelines by the Electricity Ministry that power cuts would only occur during the period 10 minutes before and after the hour have been cancelled and replaced by a new timetable detailing cuts on a governorate-by-governorate basis.

In mid-July, the Electricity Ministry confirmed that national electricity consumption had reached record levels of 34,650 MW during peak hours as temperatures climbed to over 40 degrees Celsius in most of the country, reaching more than 45 in the south.

The ongoing electricity load reduction programme will continue as long as temperatures surpass 35 degrees Celsius.

Egypt’s Meteorological Authority said on Monday that the highest humidity levels this summer are expected in August and predicted average temperatures of between 34 and 37 degrees Celsius, though it said the month could see short periods of higher temperatures.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 3 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: