Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power has been awarded contracts to develop three projects under the second round of Egypt’s feed-in-tariff (FiT) programme.

Acwa Power will develop, finance, build, own and operate three photovoltaic (PV) solar facilities with a total capacity of 165.5MW. The total investment required will be about $190m.

The three projects will be located in the Aswan province in Benban, and will have the capacity to generate 67.5MW, 70MW and 28MW individually. The projects are expected to reach financial close by the fourth quarter of 2017, with construction due to start by the end of the year. The plants are due to start operation in 2018. For the 67.5MW project, the local Hassan Allam Holding is Acwa Power’s partner for the scheme.

Acwa Power is the second Saudi developer to sign contracts to deliver PV solar plants under the second round of the FiT programme.

MEED reported in May that Alfanar Energy had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) to develop a 50MW photovoltaic (PV) solar plant under the second round of the FiT scheme.

Alfanar will also develop the 50MW facility at the proposed 1.8GW Benban solar complex. The Saudi company has secured $55m in non-recourse financing from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of Private Sector (ICD).

MEED reported in March that three developers had reached financial close for PV IPPs in Benban under the first round of Egypt’s ambitious 4.3GW feed-in-tariff renewable energy programme.

The first round of the feed-in-tariff programme had been plagued by a number of problems, from the ongoing currency crisis in Egypt to disputes over the omission of an international arbitration clause in the contracts.

A total of 40 developers were prequalified to participate in the first round of the programme in 2015, but only nine of these signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with EETC by the deadline in October 2016. Out of these nine, only the above three were able to successfully reach financial close under the conditions of the first round.

MEED reported in January that 31 developers were seeking to develop renewable energy projects in the second round of Egypt’s Feed-in-tariff (FIT) renewables programme.

The companies are planning to implement a combination of solar and wind projects under the FIT scheme, which would result in total investments of $3bn and 1,845MW of new capacity to the grid, according to local press reports citing the country’s electricity ministry.

The prospective projects would involve 23 developers establishing solar projects with a total capacity of 1,295MW. This would include 970MW in Banban, 180MW in El-Zafrana and 145MW in West Nile. According to the ministry, eight developers are seeking to develop wind farms with a total capacity of 550MW in the Gulf of Suez.

The news that more than 30 developers are participating in the FIT is positive news for Egypt’s ambitious renewable energy targets, with many in the renewable sector fearing that a significant number of companies would not be interested in the second round as tariff-prices were cut sharply from the first round.