Cairo will need to get strategy right

26 October 2010

The government must decide if it wants to pursue wind power or solar schemes to meet its 2020 target

Egypt has achieved more than most countries in the Middle East and North Africa region (Mena) in terms of renewable power.

The country has brought over 400MW of wind power online at Zafarana on the Red Sea coastline.

Cairo pioneered the development of thermal solar with a 20MW concentrated solar power (CSP) facility at Kuraymat, which will start up before the end of the year.

The country now finds itself at a crossroads. The government could put its weight behind wind power and consequently skim its target of 20 per cent of power sourced through renewables by 2020. 

A solar-focussed policy would mean that Egypt would miss its 2020 target by a significant margin. However, doing so could establish the country a regional leader in CSP technology, a status that could drive its industrial base.

Egypt is also looking at the potential for biomass projects. The capital experiences smog every October due to the end of the rice season as the left-over bagasse is burned. There are proposals to convert the bagasse into pellets to fire biomass facilities. Introducing biomass into the energy mix will mitigate air pollution issues in Cairo.

Egypt should consider its full range of renewable energy options. Missing its 2020 renewables target might be a small price to pay to bolster its industrial sector and air quality conditions in the capital.

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