Egypt to start first concentrated solar energy plant in february

Egypt will start a 140-megawatt combined-cycle power plant in February that will be the North African nation’s first facility to use solar energy, a spokesman at the Electricity and Energy Ministry said.

"As soon as we have confirmed that all parts are working properly in harmony, the plant will start operations," Aktham Abou El-Ella said today by phone from Cairo.

The Concentrating Solar Power plant in Kuraymat, an uninhabited flat desert area about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Cairo, will have a solar capacity of 20 megawatts. The concentrated solar energy facility will also include turbines that run on natural gas and steam, according to the website of the ministry’s New and Renewable Energy Authority.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country, plans to generate 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, including 12 percent from wind energy, according to the ministry. The country’s generating capacity reached 22,750 megawatts in the fiscal year ended in June.

The Ministry signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with Iberdrola of Spain in 2007, according to the ministry’s website. Cairo-based Orascom Construction Industries is doing the construction work.