Egypt is positioning itself to become a major wind power centre in Africa with the announcement last week that the nation is getting ready to choose companies to build a massive 1,000 megawatt (MW) wind farm along the Gulf of Suez.
The announcement, made by Electricity Minister Hassan Younes, is part of Egypt’s aggressive plans to install at least 7,200 MW of new wind capacity by 2020. Egypt wants 20% of its energy needs provided by renewables within 10 years, with wind power expected to generate 12%.
The new Egyptian wind farm would rival the size of the enormous London Array offshore wind facility being built in the Thames Estuary.
According to a report in The National, Egypt currently meets more than 86% of its electricity demand from thermal plants burning mostly natural gas. Another 12% is hydro-electricity from the Aswan High Dam in the far south of the country. The report also said existing wind farms contribute less than 1% to Egypt’s energy mix.
A nation of more than 80 million people, Egypt is seeking to attract $110 billion in investments in its energy sector by 2027. Reports reveal that some of the world’s best wind power resources are in Egypt, especially in the areas of the Gulf of Suez, where at least 7,200 MW could be potentially developed by 2022, with a further 3,000 MW on the west and east banks of the Nile.
Younes’ announcement that the project will soon be tendered followed a decision by the World Bank to approve a $220 million loan to Egypt to support the Wind Power Development Project, out of which $150 million is financed from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF). This is the first CTF supported project in the Middle East and North Africa region.
“The project will support the renewable energy strategy of Egypt, which has given the utmost priority to the large scale renewable energy electricity generation program which can serve both national and regional goals of achieving fossil fuel savings, protection of the environment, and the creation of green jobs and technology transfer,” a World Bank press release said.