In recent development Egypt announced the Benben Solar Park near the southern city of Aswan that promises to transform Egypt into a major solar energy player in the world.
The ambitious project, set to be the largest solar park in the world, aspires to provide somewhere between 1.6-2GW of solar power by mid-2019. Egyptian officials believe the project will produce 20 percent of Egypt’s power through renewable energy by 2020, which will serve 350,000 Egyptians and provide eco-friendly and cost-efficient power.
The Benben complex aims to include 32 solar plants on a 37.2 square kilometre area and will churn out 1650 megawatts of electricity, according to the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Depending mainly on investments, the total cost of the project is expected to range between US$3.5 billion and US$4 billion, according to a report by the NREA. The area will host 41 separate but contiguous spots in which each investor will create their individual project. These spots will be connected through a high-voltage network through four new substantiations. These substations will, in turn, be connected to an existing 220 kW line, which passes nearby the Benban site at a distance of approximately 12 km.
At a later stage, EETC may also construct an additional connection to the neighbouring 500 kW line. Before construction begins, all projects will sign a long-term, 25-years, usufruct agreement with the NREA.
As for financing, the Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency (MIGA), an organization within the World Bank Group, is pitching US$210 million as political risk insurance for private investors to encourage them to put their money in the project, especially with Egypt’s potential political instability.
The IFC and a consortium of nine international banks will finance thirteen out of a total of nineteen solar plants. The nine banks are Africa Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Arab Bank of Bahrain, CDC of the United Kingdom, Europe Arab Bank, Finance in Motion, FinnFund, ICBC and OeEB of Austria, according to Forbes Middle East.
Egypt has been making an effort to develop its clean energy production capacity in recent years. A side from a host of announcements from officials, Bloomberg’s Climatescope 2017 annual report said that Egypt’s ranking jumped 23 places, becoming number 19 out of 71 countries assessed for the progress they have made towards clean energy. This made Egypt the second fastest country to progress in the clean energy sector since last year.