Egypt and the EBRD join forces to boost MENA PV

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the RCREEE, a Cairo-based intergovernmental institution that promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency practices in the region, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging “to cooperate in the energy arena on investment project preparation, financing and implementation, as well as knowledge sharing,” said the EBRD this week.

The collaboration is a win-win deal, since the RCREEE has a great policy and stakeholders knowledge of the region, while the EBRD can offer its technical expertise in green financing.

Since the beginning of its activities in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region the EBRD “has invested over €1 billion in 44 climate finance projects, roughly one-third of its total financing in the region. The RCREEE has helped its member countries access €600 million of funds for climate finance,” according to an EBRD spokesperson.

Egypt, Morocco and Algeria: in the right direction?

The EBRD has so far invested in four countries in the region, namely Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

However, the region’s high-quality renewable energy resources and rising pollution mean there are opportunities elsewhere too: Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have all been attracting attention in recent months.

Egypt aims for 6 GW of renewable energy installations by 2022, aiming to copy Jordan’s recent success with a similar policy. Egypt did not learn fast from Jordan though, and went on offering very generous feed-in tariffs, while Jordan has implemented a cleverer tender scheme. Egypt now looks at local and international arbitration seeking to reduce the awarded tariffs.

Apart from this issue, Egypt’s policy appears to move in the right direction considering tariffs, tenders and even bilateral projects, while financing through development financing institutions is also on the table. An issue that will not easily disappear though is the local currency.

Morocco is often considered a destination for solar thermal, as opposed to PV. However, recent news that Morocco is considering a feed-in tariff for PV installations has created an upbeat mood in the PV world.

Reacting to pv magazine’s recent article on Morocco promoting rooftop PV on 600 mosques, Noëlie Vegas, technical assistant at Germany’s institute for international cooperation in sustainable development (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) told pv magazine that “there is until today no application of feed-in tariffs in Morocco for generated power through PV systems. The possibility to feed into the low-voltage grid is currently being considered by the Moroccan government.”

GIZ assists Morocco in implementing the rooftop PV mosques scheme and recently, Morocco’s State Energy Investment Company has launched the public tenders that will award contracts to the private sector for the PV equipment of the first 100 mosques.

Finally, Algeria’s cabinet reshuffle a few months ago has created some hope. For the first time ever, Algeria’s energy minister comes from the electricity sector and not from the oil and gas sectors, which are the backbone of the country’s economy.

Noureddine Bouterfa, former chief executive officer of Algeria’s state-owned utility Sonegaz is an advocate of independent power producer (IPP) projects and higher domestic energy prices. It remains to be seen if he will give solar PV a place in the country’s energy map.