Kuraymat concentrated solar thermal power plant to boost Egypt’s power production

Spanning across the uninhabited desert landscape, the concentrated solar energy plant will collect solar energy through a total mirror surface area of 130,000m2. Kuraymat will feature parabolic trough technology integrated with combined cycle power using natural gas as a fuel. Combining the product of natural gas and solar absorption, the hybrid power plant will be capable of producing 150 megawatts of power, a solar share of 20 megawatts.

Funds secured from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the World Bank, the Japanese International Co-Operation Agency (JICA), and pledges from the NREA have allowed for the realization of this operation.

"The fruitful international co-operation played an important role in moving from the phase of experimental projects with limited capacities to large scale renewable energy grid-connected projects,” said Hassan Ahmed Younes, Egyptian Minister of Electricity & Energy at this year’s annual NREA meeting.

The NREA has collaborated with the German firm Solar Millennium Group, in particular its technology subsidiary Flagsol GmbH. Flagsol has designed the majority of instruments used in the solar field and was the primary supplier of the parabolic mirrors and the absorber pipes. After bringing the plant into service, Flagsol and Orascom Construction Industries (responsible for the plant’s construction) will be tasked with overseeing the operations the power plant for two years, before the administrative duties are transferred to the NREA.

“The hybrid power plant can be operated round the clock and serve 500,000 households with electricity,” said Sven Moormann, a representative from Solar Millennium Group.

An additive that will be welcomed by the growing demands of the Egyptian economy as peak load electricity generation had risen by roughly 7 percent in the last year.

“This cooperation was very successful and we welcome to cooperate again in other projects. The commissioning phase [start phase of operation] was realized in the last months. Therefore, the official inauguration ceremony can happen soon,” Moormann added.

An official inauguration ceremony date has yet to be set, but should take place within the next two to three weeks. A study entitled “Concentrating Solar Power for the Mediterranean Region” published in 2007 by the MED-CSP, a team comprised of several independent renewable energy research firms around the world, concluded that Egypt has a Technical Solar Thermal Electricity generating potential of 73,656 Twh/year. If corralled, this allotment of energy could augment many new opportunities in the Egyptian economy.

“Egypt has approved a plan that aims to reach 20 percent of total generated electricity through renewable energy sources by the year 2020,” said Abd El Rahman Salah El Din from the NREA.

Although this goal may be considered ambitions, Egypt is translating this sentiment into action. Just recently Egypt hosted the Franco-Egyptian Seminar on Renewable Energies in Cairo, where products were introduced and renewable energy consultation was provided by members a French delegation consisting of several ‘green’ firms based in France interested in investing in the future of Egyptian renewable energy.

The French delegates also met with Hassan Ahmed Younes and visited multiple sites outside Cairo; most notably a wind farm, situated in Zafarana along the Gulf of Suez; another source of renewable energy in which Egypt is looking bolster development.

If this economic synergy is sustained, manifested in the quest for advancing the scope of renewable energy sources, Egypt will undoubtedly benefit. No longer does the sun simply shine down upon Egypt, rather its power is now being utilized like never before.