Masdar, Acwa to build photovoltaic solar power plant in Egypt

Leading Gulf-based energy firms Masdar and Acwa Power has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company to develop up to 4 Gigawatts of renewable and natural gas power generation projects in Egypt.

As per the deal, Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s multifaceted renewable energy company, would lead development of renewable energy projects.

The GCC partners will evaluate 2 GW of renewable energy projects, including 1.5 GW of solar and 500 Megawatts of wind, stated Saudi-based Acwa Power.

A developer, investor, co-owner and operator of a portfolio of power generation and desalinated water production plants, Acwa Power currently has operations in 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Southern Africa and South East Asia regions.

The first project that would be considered is a 200 MW solar photovoltaic plant, said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, the CEO of Masdar after signing the agreement with Paddy Padmanathan, Acwa Power president and CEO and Gaber Dessouky, chairman of Egyptian Electricity Holding Company at a ceremony held today at the Egyptian Economic Cooperation Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The non-binding framework is aimed at increasing Egypt’s power generation to meet its growing electricity demands and support economic growth, he stated.

Commenting on the deal, Dr Mohamed Shaker El Markabi, Egypt’s minister of electricity and energy, said the country was committed to meeting its rising energy needs and encouraging economic growth by developing new power generation.

“We appreciate the partnership of companies, such as Masdar, Acwa Power and Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, which will explore the development of new renewable energy and natural gas facilities to provide electricity for Egyptian homes and businesses,’ stated El Markabi.

Dr. Belhoul said Egypt had one of the fastest growing populations in the Middle East and was in need of additional electricity to power its economic expansion.

“As a regional and global leader in delivering large-scale renewable energy projects, Masdar is eager to move forward with our partners to explore sustainable, economic options to improve Egypt’s energy security. The significant contribution from renewable energy envisioned in this agreement further confirms the increasing cost-competitiveness of these solutions,” he added.

According to him, the framework agreement also calls for development of 2.2 GW of combined-cycle natural gas generation led by ACWA Power.

On the deal, Padmanathan said Egypt was a very important market for the Saudi group.

“The Egyptian government’ss efforts in keeping pace with the increasing demand of power and energy to meet the expectations of its developing economy, is a key driver in looking into efficient energy solutions,” he noted.

“Through this MoU, the partnership will look into potential opportunities of generating power more efficiently, utilizing a broader mix of fuel resources and renewable energy sources, hence providing cutting edge technologies and a more cost competitive approach. Producing 4 Gigawatts of energy will not only sustain economic development but will also position Egypt as one of the globally leading countries in the field of renewable energy,” he added.

Padmanathan pointed out that Egypt had made installing additional power generation capacity a priority, rolling out one of the Middle East and North African region’s most ambitious renewable energy programs as it seeks to meet surging domestic energy demand while curbing reliance on fossil fuel imports.

Dessouky said Egyptian Electricity Holding Company was delighted at the partnership with Acwa Power and Masdar to examine the development of new power plants in Egypt, including renewable energy and natural gas.

“Every day we work to ensure that Egyptians have the electricity they need, and at the same time we are looking at new projects to help provide the power for Egypt’s future,” he added.

Dessouky said at the end of 2013, Egypt had 31 GW of total installed generating capacity, dominated by natural gas and oil. It had 552MW of wind and 20MW of solar generating capacity.

The renewable component, including hydro, is projected to increase to 20 per cent by 2020, he added.