Italy helps Egypt develop solar power

Italy has provided Egypt with a EGP 3.5 million ($502,159) grant to develop solar power in the Wadi Al-Hitan region of El Fayoum Governorate’s Wadi Al-Rayan wildlife reserve, according to Egyptian newspaper Daily News Egypt.

Citing a statement from the Ministry of Environment, the paper reported that the grant was offered as part of Egypt and Italy’s cooperation in the fields of environmental protection and sustainable development.

Solar arrays built in the area are currently generating electricity for 19 buildings, said Mohamed Talaat, the head of the central administration for natural reserves, an affiliate of the Ministry of Environment.

Igor Marcialis, manager of the Commodity Aid Programme at the Italian Foreign Ministry’s Italian Cooperation, said the units’ production capacity currently stood at 43 kW per hour, adding that batteries could supply energy for three days while being separated from the station.

"The Italian side will provide the periodic maintenance of the units for two years," Talaat said, adding that workers in the Wadi Al-Hitan region have been trained to operate the solar energy units and perform periodic maintenance in the future.

Egypt’s government has expressed its intention increase solar energy generation. Former Minister of Electricity Ahmed Imam said in February that 25 solar energy stations would be installed on the roofs of ministerial buildings.

The government is looking to produce 20 percent of the country’s energy through new and renewable energy by 2020, with wind accounting for 12 percent, according to Imam.

In March, a village in Marsa Matruh Governorate was equipped with solar lighting systems in houses, on streets and at other service establishments through a partnership program between Philips Egypt and Shell Egypt.