DESERTEC - Energy from the Desert - "Opportunities for Egypt"

2012

The desert brings tremendous potential for Egypt, experts agreed. Given the excellent conditions for Renewable Energies in Egypt, there are real chances for its economy and development. Regardless of the current lack of a suitable regulatory framework in Egypt, renewable energies are already competitive in the some areas.

On the occasion of the World Environment Day 2012 Cairo Climate Talks (CCT) hosted its 7th monthly panel discussion to review and assess Egypt’s potential for using renewable energies on the 5th of June 2012 at Sawy Culturewheel.

The desert brings tremendous potential for Egypt, experts agreed. Given the excellent conditions for Renewable Energies in Egypt, there are real chances for its economy and development. Regardless of the current lack of a suitable regulatory framework in Egypt, renewable energies are already competitive in the some areas.

Within the framework of a changing energy policy in the MENA region towards Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency the demand of skilled professionals in the field is constantly rising.

As the desert countries shall soon play a major role in the production of renewable energies, future leaders need to be qualified in order to secure the development process and maximize those countries’ share in the creation of value.

Under the DESERTEC proposal, concentrating solar power systems, photovoltaic systems and wind parks would be spread over the desert regions in Northern Africa. Produced electricity would be both used locally and transmitted to European and African countries.

So, Cairo Climate Talks brought scientists, policy makers and representatives from industry and society together to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the DESERTEC project in Egypt.

Dr. Hani Nokrashy, DESERTEC Foundation, explained that the DESERTEC concept offers energy security and climate protection for a world with 10 billion people. “We need to use the remaining resources responsibly and wisely. “If we change only 20% to the RE we would have won a big part of the battle against the rise of sea level,” he concluded. All people of the earth shall have a realistic chance for development. According to the DESERTEC concept renewable energy is used not only for export to Europe, but also for regional development like water desalination. Energy from the sun is abundant and unused.

Since the Mediterranean basin is rich in wind and solar energy as Dr. Hafez Salmawy, Managing Director of the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency, said, there are numerous initiatives for Renewable Energy. Three regional Initiatives are presently available which are; the Mediterranean Solar Plan (MSP), DESERTEC and Art. 9 of the 3rd EU Energy Package. The general theme of the two initiatives as well as the European directive is building renewable energy plants, mainly solar, in the south Mediterranean countries and export part of their produced energy to Europe.

Eng. Emad Ghaly, Siemens President of Renewable Energy, Egypt, and Head of Wind Power Middle East, focused on the future potential that can reach 1000 times of what we have today. He offered concrete suggestions on what needs to be done to advance Renewable Energy. The industry needs incentive mechanisms like feed-in tariffs and new management of the subsidized system. Renewable Energy will create an export market, which will support and develop infrastructure in Egypt and the region.

“We need applied mechanisms, we need specialized training. We also need clear mechanisms on establishing and connecting it to the electricity grid.”

The job potential is not to be underestimated. “In Germany more than 300 thousand people work in the field of Renewable Energy as direct employment only, without calculating the indirect employment.” In that sense, representing the industry, “we are here to do business” Mr. Ghaly concluded.

Dr. Albrecht Kaupp, GIZ Senior Advisor on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment – Support Mediterranean Solar Plan (MSP) summarized the opportunities for Egypt as follows: “There are good news and bad news for Egypt regarding renewable energy”, Dr. Kaupp said. The bad news is that electricity export by submarine cable into the EU is only realistic for Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya. This is due to sea depth and steep coastlines.

The good news for Egypt is that it has great potential in electricity production. So, Egypt has good resources but cannot connect directly transfer its energy to Europe. But it can use it locally, as Dr. Kaupp stated. Whether the legal framework gives incentives or not, fact is that photovoltaic systems and wind power are cheaper for some uses in Upper Egypt, e.g. water pumps that are currently running on diesel. Dr. Kaupp maintained that promoters of reneable energy in Egypt did not analyze the budget allocation of adding RE power capacity. This might be a convincing factor, though.

Dr. Mouldi Miled, Secretary General DESERTEC University Network (DUN), introduced the establishment of the academic network. Within the framework of a changing energy policy in the MENA region towards Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency the demand of skilled professionals in the field is constantly rising. As the desert countries will soon play a major role in the production of renewable energies, future leaders need to be qualified in order to secure the development process and maximize those countries’ share in the creation of value. There are also technical issues like dealing with sandstorms that only can be solved by academic cooperation.

Prof. Maged ElSherbiny, President of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, and Assistant Minister for Scientific Research, acknowledged in the closed workshop that preceded the evening event, that there are legal obstacles that need to be solved, but he expects more progress on the political level within this year, not least because all presidential candidates have mentioned renewables as a priority.

Meet our Panelists

Prof. Rudolph Schäfer

Founding Director of the El Gouna Campus of the Technical University Berlin

Eng. Sherif Abd El Rahim

General Manager of the General Department of Climate Change Technology & Research (EEAA – CCCD)

Dr. Mohamed A. Salheen

Architect and City Planner, Director of the Dual Masters Program “Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design” at Ain Shams University

Dr. Hend Farouh

Architect and Senior Researcher of Sustainable Architecture & Urban Development at the Housing and Building National Research Center (HBRC)

Meet our Moderators

Mrs. Amira El Ahl

Mr. Ahmed Sedky

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