Egypt relies on the burning of fossil fuels to satisfy about 85 percent of its electricity requirements--which are growing at a rate of 8 percent per year. With the Arab country's fossil fuel supply expected to dry up within the next 30-50 years, policy makers are taking a close look at Wind Energy to calculate its potential.
The National Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), which manages Egypt's clean energy portfolio, has mapped out a strategy to develop the country's abundant wind resources.
In the Works:
"We are currently generating 400 MW of power from wind and will increase our capacity to 600 MW by mid-2010," says Fathy Ameen Mohammad, vice- chairman for projects and operations at NREA. "Our goal is to generate 7,200 MW of wind power by 2020, which is about 12 percent of total electricity production."
Can it be done? Energy experts--whoever they are--seem to think so.
A Wind Atlas for Egypt, published in 2005, indicated that the coastal plain between Suez and Hurghada on Egypt's Red Sea coast has sufficient wind resources to generate 20,000 MW. Egyptian and Danish researchers found average wind speeds on this plain exceeded 9 meters/second, comparable with the best North Sea conditions. Other candidate locations for wind power development include the Nile Valley and the Western Desert, where wind speeds average 6-7 meters/second.
And so the government has made plans, earmarking 8,000 square kilometers — an area the size of Puerto Rico — for wind parks. Japan, Denmark, Germany and Spain have provided funding for onshore wind farms currently operating or under construction on the Red Sea coast. Private investors are currently being sought for build-operate-own (BOO) wind projects to supply electricity to the national grid.
In addition, 6,500 square kilometers of state land have been earmarked in three blocks along the Nile River in Upper Egypt for wind farms. "NREA will develop on one-third of this land, while the remainder is for independent projects," Mohammad says.
Egypt has some of the lowest fossil fuel costs in the world--as do most Arab nations--and, as analysts point out, Egypt's energy policies have been engineered to ensure the supply of cheap fossil fuels to residential and industrial consumers. This, of course, discourages energy users from switching to cleaner alternatives--especially when they are more costly.
The good news is, wind energy's cost would not be as drastic a hike as, say, solar. Kilian Baelz, acting director of the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE), a Cairo-based energy policy think tank notes, "The most cost efficient technologies like wind in Egypt are near commercial, but they are not yet (commercially viable)."
Egypt is committed to phasing out subsidies on oil and gas, and privatizing electricity production and distribution — a move analysts say should encourage investment in the wind power sector. It has also reduced tariffs on imported renewable energy equipment such as wind turbines, and established a fund to help offset the marginal costs of deploying these technologies.
Full story can be found here at New Jersey News Room.
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