Benban hosts Egypt's largest solar power project

(MENAFN- Daily News Egypt) For years, Egypt has invested millions to modernise and expand its power capacity and networks. The country has recently been focusing on the expansion of renewable energy projects to meet increasing power demand, diversify the national energy resources, and protect the environment.

Although the country's average level of solar radiation throughout the year is between 2,000 to 3,200 kWh per square metre, the only solar power project in Egypt is a 20-megawatt piece of a larger 140 megawatt solar thermal and combined cycle power plant.

Egypt has initiated a programme that offers feed-in tariffs for wind and solar projects up to 50-megawatt (MW) capacity with an initial aim of securing 2,000 MW of wind capacity, 2,000 MW of solar capacity from installations greater than 500 kilowatts (kW), and a further 300 MW of solar capacity from installations below 500 kW.

Thirty-nine companies are taking part in the feed-in tariff projects with both their phases. These aim to implement projects to produce solar energy with a capacity of 1,800 MW through solar power plants—with capacities ranging between 20 and 50 MW. The companies were chosen after they had met the first round of the government's feed-in tariff requirements and strict deadlines.

Work started on the second phase on 28 October 2016, and the price of the kWh was determined for projects of 500 KW to 20 MW to be 7.88 piastres for each KW/h. For projects of capacities between 20 to 50 MW, prices are 8.40 piastres for each KWh.

In Egypt's southern governorate of Aswan, dozens of companies are racing against time to complete the country's largest and first solar power complex in Benban village.

The Benban solar development complex is built on an area of 14.4 square miles, which was dedicated to the state-run New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) in accordance with presidential decree no. 274 for year 2014. The NREA divided the site into 41 separate plots and made them available to developers and companies to carry out individual projects. The investment is worth EGP 40bn.

The project is expected to be one of the largest solar generation facilities in the world and would make a dramatic turnaround in the field of renewable energy in Egypt.

The Benban project consists of 41 solar power plants with a total capacity of 1.8 GW. The project began in 2015 and will be completed by 2018.

Prior to construction, the NREA signed 25-year usufruct agreements with the project's companies. The 41 projects on the Benban site will be connected to the Egyptian high-voltage network through four new substations, which have already been established by the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC).

Once the project is completed, the energy generated from the solar power plants will be directly connected to the national grid and then distributed across the country. Officials estimate the project's generated power to equal 90% of the electricity generated by Egypt's Aswan High Dam.

The giant project would create 20,000 job opportunities over the four-year period of construction and would provide 6,000 permanent job opportunities once the construction work are is concluded.

The project includes four major power transmission stations with a total capacity of 2,000 MW, in addition to 40 solar substations that will produce 50 MW from each, with a total voltage of 500 kV and 220 kV per station. The four main stations are scheduled to be completed by the end of August.


Daily News Egypt

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