Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, has completed the delivery of 30 megawatts of utility-scale clean energy projects and 7,000 solar home systems in remote and strategic areas across Egypt. Together, the four clean energy projects developed by Masdar’s Special Projects unit will power 25,800 homes and displace 42,700 tonnes of CO2 annually, as well as advance the development objectives of the Egyptian government.
On Tuesday, April 19, Masdar formally completed a 14 MW project comprised of four photovoltaic diesel hybrid plants developed in the governorate of the Red Sea. The new projects complement existing diesel-based plants with solar energy, thereby saving costs associated with the purchase and transport of diesel, reducing risk of fuel price increases and supply shortages, and greatly reducing CO2 emissions. The plants in Marsa Alam (6MW), Shalateen (5MW), Abu Ramad (2 MW) and Halayeb (1 MW) are specifically designed to ensure that the area’s tourism sector – the lifeblood of the region – is supported by efficient and reliable electricity.
Another three photovoltaic diesel hybrids in Al Wadi Al Jadeed Governorate became operational in December 2015. The three plants in Al Farafra (5 MW), Abu Minqar (0.5 MW) and Darb Al Arbaeen (0.5 MW) bring electricity infrastructure to Egypt’s largest but least populated governorate, thereby catalysing the growth of an underdeveloped region.
Masdar has also recently completed the deployment of standalone off-grid solar home systems in remote areas across Egypt that previously had no access to electricity. The 7,000 systems, consisting of two solar panels, two batteries with up to two days of storage capacity and lighting units, were provided to homes, mosques, clinics, schools and community centres.
These projects build on the 10 MW photovoltaic plant that Masdar recently inaugurated in Siwa. Producing 17,551 MWh of clean power annually, the Siwa plant continues to meet 30% of the area’s electricity needs.
Reflecting on the delivery of the four projects, Masdar’s CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said, “These projects demonstrate how renewable energy can help countries meet a broad array of strategic aims – from empowering local communities, to strengthening energy security, to driving economic development. Energy is truly the backbone of development, and I am proud that Masdar can support Egypt’s strategic development aims as well as the critical Global Goal of delivering sustainable energy for all.”
The selection of the locations for the utility scale plants as well as the individual beneficiaries of the solar home systems was made in coordination with the Ministry of Electricity in Egypt and the local authorities in the designated localities. The program, initiated and funded by the government of Abu Dhabi, extended over a period of 2 years from inception to completion of construction, testing and commissioning, and handover.
Khaled Ballaith, Director of the Masdar Special Projects unit, added, “Each project was customized to the needs of the local community. This is reflected in the breadth of the technologies used – from utility-scale photovoltaic, to hybrid diesel technology, to off-grid solutions. Our priority was ensuring the right solution was deployed for the unique needs of the 70 villages and over 140 communities in seven governorates touched by these projects.”
In delivering the projects across such a wide geography, the Special Projects team encountered numerous challenges, including a lack of both infrastructure and trained wokers to support construction. The team overcame these obstacles through close collaboration with Egyptian partners and by drawing on its experiences delivering projects in challenging geographies from Afghanistan to the Pacific Islands.