Scatec Solar connects another batch of bifacial tracking capacity in Egypt’s Benban complex

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One slice after another of Scatec Solar’s 400 MW bifacial and single-axis tracking plant at Egypt’s Benban complex is reaching commercial operation. On June 3, the Norwegian independent power provider said it had connected a second 65 MW plot with a total of 130 MW grid connected at Benban by that point.

Today Scatec announced it has connected its third plot, ramping its installed capacity to 195 MW. Three further 65 MW plots are awaiting completion and grid connection. Scatec said it expects to wrap up installation and enter commercial operation with the remaining capacity in the second half of the year.

In April 2017, Scatec signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with the government of Egypt for six plants with a total 400 MW production capacity. Aggregate investment in the Benban projects has been estimated at $450 million, with $50-70 million in equity from Scatec. The company partnered with unspecified Egyptian developers and KLP Norfund Investments for additional equity investment and also drew upon a consortium of lenders led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Scatec stated revenue from the projects over 25 years has been estimated at $60 million.

Tenders drive down price

The developer will sell electricity from the 400 MW site to the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC). Public tenders took place to determine the price of electricity from Benban.

The price resulting from the feed-in tariff under which Benban projects are realized is $0.084/kWh. The complex, once finished, will see 1.8 GW of solar generation capacity connected to the grid. Since that generous FIT regime, Egypt has moved towards competitive auctions and has received bids of around $0.03/kWh, and even lower for big utility scale projects.

In the tender for the 200 MW Kom Ombo project, the EETC received six bids, the lowest of which – $0.02752/kWh – was submitted by Saudi energy group ACWA Power. The second lowest offer came from Spanish developer Fotowatio, at $0.02791, and was followed by Scatec’s $0.03045. Three other consortia – EDF-Marubeni-El Sewedy; Engie-Orascom; and Actis-Enerpal – offered $0.0315, $0.034 and $0.035 per kWh, respectively.