Egypt now has one of the very first entire towns in the world to be powered exclusively with solar power. And actually, it is a pair of towns, so it is a world first. The two villages were not previously on the national grid. Oum Al-Sagheer and Ein Zahrah are located about 500 miles from Cairo at Siwa, which is a desert oasis tourism destination.
Hassan Younis, Egypt’s minister of Electricity and Energy announced the project this week. The villages will get solar to power all the mosques and schools and each of the other facilities in the two villages, as well as the houses of their residents, and even right down to the street lighting.
The solar project is a joint-venture between the Italian Ministry for Environment and Land and Egypt’s Renewable Energy Authority, which came under criticism this summer for failure to keep the power on in the heatwave.
As a developing country, Egypt qualifies for funding under the Clean Development Mechanism, which under European Trading Scheme cap and trade, channels the “trade” money from polluter industries to the developing world to develop low carbon technology to cut potential emissions, as they get added onto the “world’s grid”.
Egypt has proved adept at channeling this clean energy funding source, to the point that it now qualifies as the only Middle Eastern nation in the top 22 worldwide in clean energy development potential. The solar for the two villages is being funded by a grant from Italy to cover the cost: 3 million Egyptian pounds, or about half a million US dollars.
The US just announced its own first solar town this summer. The sunny California town of Nipton is, like its Egyptian counterparts, off the beaten track. Like Oum Al-Sagheer and Ein Zahrah, Nipton gets a lot of sun.
But unlike their Egyptian counterparts, who built temples to the Sun-God Ra, it is probable that the European ancestors of those who now live in Nipton did not have any kind of premonition of the incredible potential power of the sun, which we are all of us now finally unleashing, so many centuries later.