Egypt signs 3 GW solar deal with SkyPower, IGD

Canadian solar giant SkyPower Global and International Gulf Development (IGD) have signed a major agreement with the government of Egypt to develop 3 GW of utility-scale solar PV projects to be built over the next four years.

The companies reached the agreement at the first ever Egypt Economic Development Conference, where the Egyptian government also unveiled its ambitious plans to build a new capital city from scratch outside of Cairo for an estimated $45 billion.

The deal is seen as a major step in Egypt’s plan to develop a sustainable renewable energy industry, creating thousands of new green energy jobs and attracting billions in capital investment. The 3 GW project is expected to create 75,000 jobs and includes the establishment of 600 MW of manufacturing and assembly fabs in the country.

"The availability of energy and managing the demand for it is one of the main priorities on the Egyptian development agenda,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

SkyPower President and CEO Kerry Adler added, "The signing of this monumental agreement demonstrates the shared passionate aspirations of global partnerships that will substantially impact the country’s GDP, contributing approximately $16.1 billion, resulting in increased opportunities for employment, skills training, youth and education."

SkyPower is partnering with IGD, an infrastructure specialist and joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based conglomerates Al Hamed Enterprises and Gulf Data International (GDI) that focuses on the Middle Easter and North Africa. The venture will entail a multi-phase development. Working with the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy in the development of the solar PV energy projects, SkyPower and IGD expect phase one to reach commercial operation in late 2015.

The Egyptian government is eager to develop clean, sustainable and cost-effective energy to support its growing energy demands and meet the country’s goal of producing 20% of energy from renewables by 2020. Egypt is looking to install 2.3 GW of solar (2 GW of large-scale and 300 MW of small scale under 500 kW) by 2017.

The country will need plenty of new energy capacity in view of its lofty plans to build a new capital in the desert sands east of Cairo (which has served as the country’s capital for more than a 1,000 years) for some $45 billion.

Cairo, whose population of 18 million is set to double in the coming decades, has long suffered from power blackouts and increasingly dilapidated infrastructure. The new capital would cover 700 square kilometers (an area roughly the size of Singapore or Denver) and house up to 7 million people.

Troy Lulashnyk, Canadian Ambassador to Egypt, who was present at the signing of the agreement, said the deal “marks a significant milestone” for international businesses, sending a “clear signal … that they can work in Egypt with confidence, and to Egyptians that their country is open for business."