Egypt’s Next Huge Wind Farm

egypt wind farm, map of country

Even as the country tries to sort out its new political identity following the first democratic elections in decades, Egypt is forging ahead with its wind power plans. Big time.

As part of its target of going from its current 550MW of wind to a staggering 2,690MW by 2016 to reach 7,200MW by 2020, Egypt is putting bids out for yet more wind power.

A tender for a 200 MW wind farm to be built on the Gulf of Suez, at a cost of $500 million was announced by Energy Minister Hassan Yunis. This would continue progress towards this ambitious goal to tap some of the best wind resources in the world. He said that the winning bidder would also perform maintenance long term as well as supplying and installing the farm. It is likely to generate a gold rush of wind developers.

(Related: Egypt Requests Bids to Get 2.7 Gigawatts of Wind Power by 2016)

The first phase, announced in January 2011, attracted 72 foreign wind developers, and the winning bid was selected in July, according to Yunis. The tender represents the second and third phases of the expansion of Egypt’s ambitious wind energy plans.

But it better move fast on this next one. Currently, the wind farm is not expected to begin until 2014. Contributions from the European Investment Bank and the European Commission, would fund the project, Yunis said. But many of these funds come under Europe’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) developed as a result of signing the Kyoto Accord.

Under the ETS cap and trade policy, polluters can offset carbon emissions in Europe by funding clean energy projects in the rapidly growing emerging economies.

But there is the suggestion at the climate talks in Durban this week of the end of the Kyoto Accord when it expires in 2012, and that could mean the end of the CDM.

At least after 2015. According to the FAQ page at the CDM:

“The CDM exists as part of the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement that established a legal framework for an indefinite period. Although the emission targets of Annex I Parties are negotiated on a commitment period by commitment period basis, the CDM itself is a long-term mechanism that continues from one period to the next, and is not tied to specific commitment periods. This continuity applies to all aspects of the CDM, including the registration of project activities, issuance of certified emission reductions (CERs), approval of methodologies, and accreditation of designated operational entities.”.

If begun by the end of 2012, current projects may continue at least until 2015, according to the FAQ, suggesting that they will not immediately affected by the demise of agreement on extending the Kyoto Accord.

Although it has been much derided, (because polluters are seen as getting away with “offsetting their sins” elsewhere) the CDM policy is the most beneficial to the planet as a whole, because it reduces the most greenhouse gas emissions – from power plants that have yet to be built, in the rapidly growing nations of India, China, and the MENA region.

Image: Risø DTU Wind Atlas

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