Egypt embraces solar, announces $1 billion investment

The Egyptian government has announced plans to invest up to $1 billion to develop several major solar energy projects.

While details of the initiative remain scarce, pv magazine has learned that the investment is aimed at several solar projects.

Local and Administrative Development Minister Adel Labib revealed the plans on Saturday at a conference in Alexandria organized by the city’s Chamber of Commerce, saying Egypt was in need of establishing development projects in order to offer more job opportunities for young people. Labib added that Egypt had natural mineral resources that have yet to be exploited.

Egypt’s State Information Service reported the news on its website but provided no further details about the project.

In related news, Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development Mostafa Madbouly announced plans last week to install PV arrays on some government buildings in an effort to reduce stress on Egypt’s strained electrical grid, according to Daily News Egypt, which cited an official statement.

Madbouly has signed an agreement with the New Urban Communities Authority and the Information and Decision Support Center to provide technical and financial assistance for the project. As part of the Shamsak ya Masr (Egypt’s Sun) initiative, the project aims to increase the use of solar energy and lower the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

As part of the project, solar panels will be installed on the roof of the New Urban Communities Authority building to help generate power for lighting as well as to increase the overall capacity of the electricity grid, according to the statement.

The country’s Minister of Electricity and Energy Mohamed Shaker said last month that the government would not be able to prevent electrical power shortages this summer but added that it would try to reduce energy consumption to the lowest level possible, Daily News Egypt reported. Egypt’s energy problems will take several years to be resolved, he added.

The government is looking to increase the country’s share of new and renewable energy to 20% by 2020, former electricity minister Ahmed Emam said during the Future Investment Opportunities in the New and Renewable Energy summit in February. Wind will likely account for 12%, with other renewable energy sources making up the remaining 8%.

Developments in Egypt’s solar sector have been on the rise in recent weeks. The country recently received a grant from Italy of more than $500,000 to develop solar power in the Wadi Al-Hitan region of El Fayoum Governorate’s Wadi Al-Rayan wildlife reserve.

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Arab Renewable Energy Company (ARECO) signed a contract with Disctech FZCO, an affiliate of Z-One Holding of the United Arab Emirates, to establish a solar PV production line in the country.