ACCIONA Energía, the renewables subsidiary of ACCIONA Group, and Enara Bahrain Spv Wll (ENARA), the renewable energy platform of the Saudi company Swicorp, have begun construction work on three photovoltaic plants in Egypt with a total a rated capacity of 150 megawatts (MW) – 186 MWp. The facilities, which will be owned at 50% by both companies when they entered service, represent an investment of around 180 million US dollars and are located in the Benban complex, set up by the Egyptian Government in the Aswan region. They represent the first renewables project by ACCIONA Energía in Egypt.
The three projects come under the feed-in tariff system established by the Egyptian Administration in call for tender Round 2, published in October 2016. Overall, they will produce clean energy equivalent to the consumption of around 150,000 Egyptian homes and avoid the emission of 297,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum from fuel-oil power plants.
The power generated will be supplied to the utility Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) under a long-term PPA contract (25 years) governed by the conditions set in Round 2. Finance for the operation has been agreed with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank body, and with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), both specialized in financing private projects in emerging countries.
The construction work, which has already started, will last for an estimated 12 months until the start-up of the plants. Each one will be equipped with 190,774 polycrystalline silicon modules of Astronergy technology (Chint group), mounted on horizontal-axis tracking structures manufactured by STI Norland.
The Benban photovoltaic complex covers 37.2 square kilometres on a site provided by the Egyptian Government through its New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA). It is equipped with the energy evacuation infrastructure required to accommodate 41 privately-owned photovoltaic plants (combined capacity; 1,800 MW).
This initiative comes under the Egyptian Government’s plan to promote renewable energies to diversify the country’s electricity mix, currently dependent on oil and gas (the latter imported) at over 90%. It also aims to boost economic growth, expected to be higher than 4% per annum in the medium term. Egypt has set itself a strategic target of covering 20% of its electricity demand with renewables by 2022 compared with 8% in 2015. This would mean 2.8c0 photovoltaic megawatts in operation by that date, according to NREA forecasts.