Futek is about to break ground on a new solar cell manufacturing plant in Egypt, which is expected to cost roughly USD 3 million to construct. This is the company’s third such plant in the solar-rich north African country, which combined with the others costs a total of USD 7.35 million to run.
President of Futek’s Board of Directors, Mohamed Helal told Daily News Egypt that he hopes the new manufacturing facility will boost production capacity so that the company can reach new markets and increase exports. But he also laments a series of obstacles that curtail wider development of similar renewable energy projects throughout the country.
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are finally realizing not only the importance of incorporating solar into their energy portfolio, but also producing the necessary technology at home.
Homegrown solar cell manufacturing plants reduce Egypt’s dependence on international solar manufacturers, such as Germany for example, which in turn cuts the cost of adding solar energy to local commercial and residential developments.
At present, the technology is prohibitively expensive for most people who want to get off the fossil fueled-bandwagon, which means the great majority of people who have access to energy in Egypt often have to endure frequent power cuts.
Yet despite an increasing demand from factories, farms, hotels, and airports, who aim to use solar to supply up to 25 percent of their energy needs and reduce their dependence on the unreliable national grid, according to DNE, the same bureaucratic hurdles that made it so hard for the local NGO Shagara to plant a rooftop farm in Cairo has stunted the evolution of good, clean and renewable energy initiatives in the troubled nation.
Helal told DNE that it is difficult to obtain funding because solar energy is intermittent and because the large swaths of land necessary to construct solar cells are expensive for potential investors.
Meanwhile, subsidies for fossil fuels, which were recently brought into the spotlight last week as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for their reduction in order to green economies and cut back on carbon emissions, make pricing uncompetitive.
Yet the company perseveres, thereby shrinking Egypt’s longstanding addiction to fossil fuels – albeit at snail’s pace.
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