Egypt currently relies on slowly diminishing oil and gas reserves to meet over 85 percent of its energy requirements. Today and after about 40 years, Egypt’s oil and gas reserves are expected to last for three more decades forcing us to look forward to an urgent and old solution, alternative energy. The question is, why did we actually have to wait that long to invest and develop our alternative energy resources? We have the capacity not only to sustain our own energy needs, but to actually become a leading energy net-exporter. Luckily, alternative clean energy will be in higher demand than traditional non-sustainable energy sources in the near future; what better way to be positioned going forward? Now, what kind of energy can we provide.
Current global wind power capacity potential is believed to be five times total current global energy production, in other words it can cover 40 times the current electricity demand. “Ninety percent of the land in Egypt is empty and is suitable for setting up wind turbines. Wind farms remain the best option for renewable energy in Egypt.” said Aktham Abou El- Ella, a spokesman for the Electricity Ministry of Egypt in late 2010. By 2020, Egypt had an ambitious plan of covering 20% of the total national electricity capacity through wind energy, representing an estimated 13 GW. Last June, a total of 72 international companies had expressed interest to bid for PPP projects in such a promising field. The wind atlas of Egypt illustrates very high wind sources in the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba, in addition to the Western Desert which happens to be close to the electrical grid. “Some of the world’s best wind power resources are in Egypt, especially in the areas of the Gulf of Suez, where at least 7.2GW could be potentially developed by 2022, with further 3GW on the west and east banks of the Nile,” the World Bank said in a statement at the time.
Up to 2.1 gigawatts of electricity has been generated from the Aswan Dam, since 1967.Water is about 800 times denser than air, which means that substantial energy can be generated from minor water flows. Being surrounded by the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, in addition to having the Nile flowing right in the center of our land, provides us with many forms of Hydropower. We have already tried Hydroelectric power, large-scale hydroelectric dams, such as the Aswan Dam. However, there are other forms, that are yet to be harnessed. Micro hydro systems are simple installations that can generate up to 100 kW of power, which we can use in off-grid and remote locations in the far south near the Sudanese border, and the far north west, near the Libyan border. We can also use Run-of-the-river hydroelectricity systems which harness kinetic energy from rivers and oceans without the complex instalations of dams. Finally, we can derive several forms of Ocean Energy using current power, sea thermal energy conversion, or the simple tidal power.
Egypt is one of the world’s sunniest nations, making Solar energy one of its most promising solutions. Egypt’s annual solar concentration averages 2,300 KWh per m2, about 130% higher than Germany, however less than 10% of Germany’s per capita use of solar technologies. “you have everything you need to produce the cheapest kilowatt hour in the region” says Amr Mohsen, chairman and CEO of Lotus Solar Technologies. Solar energy is derived from the sun’s solar radiation. The Egyptian Electricity Ministry announced plans in mid 2010 to build a new $700m 100MW solar power plant between 2012 and 2017. The plan was aimed at making Egypt one of the leading developers of utility-scale solar plants. The World Bank offered assistance in energy efficiency in the Egyptian power sector through El Tebbin Power Project, which aims to increase the share of solar-based power. It is worth noting that Egypt is among candidates for a 550 billion dollar project to build solar collectors in North African deserts to supply 15 percent of Europe’s energy by 2020. Hopefully, that is a strong enough argument to the viability of harnessing solar energy in Egypt.