‘Renewable energy heaven’ Egypt could be 2GW annual market

With its growing energy demand, strong winds and bright sunshine. Egypt should be adding 2GW a year of solar and wind, but its civil service has only been given enough capacity to process one project at a time, says a senior executive at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Harry Boyd-Carpenter, head of energy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the London-based mutilateral, told the Green Investment Group’s Green Energy Conference that the North African country should be a major global player in renewables.

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Yet it had only installed 1.2GW of wind and 661MW of solar by the end of 2018, according to Global Wind Energy Council and SolarPower Europe figures.

“Egypt is honing in on 100 million people, a fast-growing economy, a fast-growing electricity market, they have 11 metres-per-second wind resource, they have onshore wind farms with 55% capacity factors, they have close to 3,000 full load hours in solar plants, it’s just renewable-energy heaven,” said Boyd-Carpenter.

“We’ve been working very closely with the government over the past few years, we’ve done a gigawatt now of renewables capacity ourselves [in Egypt]. There are four or five people at the top of the ministry and the electricity transmission company and the regulator who are brilliant ­— incredibly dedicated, incredibly hard-working, but they have no back-up,” he said.

“The woman who runs private-sector projects in the electricity transmission company in Egypt had no email for two months because they moved offices and it took two months to reinstall her computer.”

Boyd-Carpenter continued:“The calibre and the commitment [of these individuals] is as good or better than anything you’ll see in more developed markets, but there’s no depth. There’s nobody that these people can call up and say, ‘okay, I’ve taken this executive decision, make it happen’.

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“Now we and others try to step in and fill that gap, we’ll fund consultancies, we’ll fund advisors to try to fill in, but the reality is — and this is an economy-wide problem in many developing countries — you can’t substitute for a civil service that just doesn’t yet have the culture and the resources. And I don’t have an easy answer for that.”

“[This is] frustrating, because I see in Egypt, they should be rolling out 2GW a year. But this team, these few people can only focus — even working 18 hours a day — on one project at a time.”

Boyd-Carpenter added that he also sees Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia as great potential markets for renewables developers, with growing energy demand and first-class wind and solar resources.

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