A particularly poor region of the large North African country that currently experiences intermittent electricity generation but plenty of solar irradiation, the area comprising historic Luxor and Aswan is well-suited to exploit energy from the sun. Construction on the 140 MW plant is expected to break ground some time in 2016.
Yesterday officials met with the public in the Kom Ombo region of Aswan to discuss the region’s first solar energy generation plant, Daily News Egypt reports – itself a triumphant development for a country that rarely observes proper due process.
In part this is necessary given that the project, which is expected to cost approximately 5.5 billion Egyptian pounds, will be funded by international aid and development organizations that demand transparency to ensure that new development projects are as environmentally and socially sound as possible.
Among the groups supporting the project are Clean Energy Fund, The World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Agence Francaise de Developpement, and the German Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, Minister of Energy Ahmed Imam said in a statement last week.
It is unclear whether this plant will incorporate photovoltaic technology or whether it will be similar to the country’s first solar-thermal plant – the 150 MW Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) power plant at Kuraymat, which has been feeding energy into the grid since July, 2011.
Imam praised the project’s potential to uplift the region with thousands of job opportunities for Kom Ombo, and reinforced the government’s commitment to bringing on more solar energy to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
Last year the Egyptian government under Moursi hatched a few wild plans to curtail energy consumption, including a wildly unpopular effort to shut down Cairene businesses around 11pm or midnight, despite the city’s nighttime culture that usually lasts well into the early morning hours.
This move came after severe power cuts crippled the country last year during the hot summer months when Egyptians blast their air-conditioning units, and power up their stoves to prepare Ramadan feasts.
Soaring demand, flailing supply
Even now Egyptians battle with daily power cuts, an increasingly challenging reality that has beset the poorer regions of the Middle East and North Africa for the last several years as demand soars alongside population growth.
Lebanon has been particularly hard hit, while Turkey has launched a national energy conservation campaign designed to encourage residents to wear warmer clothes and turn down their thermostats.