Japan to build solar energy plant in Egypt

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has announced plans to provide Egypt with a new solar power plant in Borg al-Arab, a city south west of Alexandria. The project, dubbed the “Project for the Introduction of Clean Energy by Solar Electricity Generation System,” is a planned photovoltaic power station that will have the capacity to power a sports club, shopping mall and dormitories.

Japan will finance $11 million as part of a plan the JICA representative in charge, Takahiro Goto, calls a “grant aid project”. The plant is expected to have a power generating capacity of 420 kilowatts and produce 641,000kw of power once it is fully operation in 2012. Shipment of the equipment and technical assistance will be provided by JICA and Egyptians will install the machinery and prepare the site.

The application for the project was submitted by Egyptians in April 2009, and was agreed in February 2010.

This has been highlighted as the reason that recent destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and the costly reconstruction of ravaged Northern Japan has not affected the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s ability to finance such large energy projects. “The Japanese policy regarding nuclear energy has not changed so far, plus the Borg al-Arab project is unrelated because the deal with the Egyptian government happened long before the accident,” Goto said.

Masaki Kudo, a JICA employee who oversees another solar hybrid plant south of Cairo explained that renewable energy is playing a big role in the government’s energy strategies.

“The demand for electricity in Egypt is growing at the rapid pace of 10 percent per year, and the government seems keen on answering the people’s needs,” he said.

This hybrid plant, called Kuraymat, was the first in the country to combine solar and gas to generate electricity.

Since the nuclear accident in Northern Japan that followed the earthquake and tsunami in March of this year, there have been continued global debates about the role of nuclear and alternative power in many countries’ energy strategies.