Egypt to inaugurate major new wind farm as it seeks to boost renewables

Ahram Online , Sunday 24 Jun 2018

Wind Turbines in Egypt
File Photo: Wind turbines are seen at the Zafarana Wind Farm near the port of El Ain El Sokhna in Egypt's Suez governorate, July 6, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

One of the largest wind power farms in the world will be inaugurated by the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy in Egypt on Saturday, as part of the country’s efforts to increase the amount of electricity it generates from renewable sources.

The wind farm is located in the Gabal El-Zeit area of the Red Sea governorate. It will have an overall capacity of 580 megawatts (MW).

With a total of 300 wind turbines, the mammoth farm consists of three projects.

Launched in 2015, construction has cost EGP 12 billion (approximately $625 million).

In statements to the press, the head of the project, Osama Noman, described the wind power project as the “biggest in the world” in terms of area, number of turbines, and the capacities generated from the plan.

The first phase of the wind farm is already running and connected to the country’s national grid. It includes 120 wind turbines and generates 240 MW of power.

The second phase, which includes 110 turbines with an overall power capacity of 220 MW, and the third phase, which includes 60 turbines generating 120 MW, will be connected to the national grid this month.

According to officials, the overall 580 MW capacity is aided by the location of the project, and by wind speeds in the area, which run at an average of 12 metres per second but have reached records of up to 33 metres per second.

Steps have also been taken to protect migratory birds whose migration routes take them through the area.

Around 37 different species of migratory birds pass through Gabal El-Zeit in spring and autumn.

The new wind farm features a migratory bird monitoring system; operating via radar, it can shut down operations when birds are in the vicinity.

According to the environment ministry, the monitoring system to protect the birds, which was implemented last year, is working successfully, with only a 0.03 percent effect on energy precaution.

New power projects

A number of new power-generation projects have been inaugurated in Egypt over recent years.

Among them are the under-construction Dabaa nuclear power plant, in cooperation with Russia, and the 2015 Siemens megaproject, in cooperation with Germany, which includes gas and wind power plants.

Egypt approved feed-in tariffs for renewable energy production in 2014, allowing the government to guarantee a certain price for energy produced so as to encourage investment in the renewable energy sector, with tariffs depending on designated production categories.

Egypt has set a goal of obtaining 20 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2022, and 42 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025.

Another wind farm is also planned to be built in the Gabal El-Zeit area.

In March, the Egyptian cabinet announced the inking of a deal between the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) and a consortium comprising Orascom Construction, French energy group Engie, and Toyota Tsusho Corporation, to build a $400 million wind farm in the area.

The agreement is under a build-own-operate framework to generate a capacity of 250 MW.

This represents a third of the total wind power currently generated in Egypt, according to the Egyptian cabinet.

The wind farm will be linked to the national grid for trial operation by mid-2019, and will be fully linked by the end of 2019.

Egypt’s solar potential

The transformation of the wind’s kinetic energy into power is only one of the Egyptian government’s plans to boost the country’s energy potential through renewable resources.

In March, Egypt inaugurated the first phase of the Benban solar park in Aswan, set to be the largest in the world upon completion, at a total capacity of 1.8 GW.

The project, which was set in motion by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2015 and allocated a 37-square-kilometre plot, is set to be completed by mid-2019.

In March the first 50 MW power plant was inaugurated; it had begun trial operations in December 2017.

The International Financial Corporation is providing $653 million for the construction of 13 solar power plants in the solar park, according to a statement in October 2017.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is also providing financing for 16 projects in Benban as part of its $500 million framework for financing renewable energy in Egypt, the bank said in September 2017.

Other solar power projects are also planned for Aswan, with a framework agreement signed in May between the National Authority for Military Production and Chinese company GCL to build a solar-panel manufacturing complex at a cost of $2-3 billion in the governorate, with a manufacturing capacity of 5 GW.

Implementation is set to begin this year and production is expected to start by 2019, to reach full capacity in 2022.

In January, Siemens Gamesa secured a contract to construct a 262 MW wind turbine in the Gulf of Suez.

The deal is part of an agreement signed by Siemens and the Egyptian government in 2015, to supply gas and wind power plants to boost the country's electricity generation by 50 percent.

Under the new agreement, the Spain-based company will install 125 of its G97-2.1 MW machines at the wind farm in Ras Ghareb.

Construction of the facility is scheduled to be complete in mid-2019, with operations expected by the end of that year.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has pledged to turn Egypt into a centre for commerce and energy, making use of its geographical location between the biggest producers and consumers of energy.

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