Wind power could determine future energy needs

Deena Douara
4 Min Read

In contrast to traditional energy sources, wind farms offer clean, safe and renewable energy

ZAFARANA: Amid worldwide attention given to Egypt s emerging nuclear energy plans, German Ambassador Bernd Erbel visited the site of a less discussed, more renewable, and safer type of energy – the Zafarana wind farm.

We must focus on renewable energy worldwide and be more efficient [with] consumption, he said. It is a win-win-win game, he added, referring to the public, government, and environment.

Just past Ein Sokhna stand 322 wind turbines along an area of 156 square km feeding 225 MW into the national power grid in what is one of the best locations for wind energy worldwide. Its total capacity is 600 MW.

The Zafarana farm alone annually reduces CO2 emissions by about 450,000 tons and saves approximately 190,000 tons of fuel. An additional 405 MW are currently being implemented or negotiated with Germany, Japan, Denmark, and Spain.

According to Chairman of the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) Samir Hassan, wind energy potential is excellent in Egypt, possessing the ideal conditions especially along the Suez Gulf, where winds reach 10.8 m/sec, as well as in parts of the Sinai and the Western Desert.

He says wind potential is so great (and underused) that it could produce up to 20,000 MW, which is the current demand for all of Egypt. Despite this however, the NREA aims to meet just 3 percent of electric energy demand, or 850 MW, by 2010, and 7 percent by 2020, mainly through wind and solar energy.

A small farm already exists in Hurghada and the NREA is planning the building of a third 3,000 MW wind farm at Gabal El-Zeit.

Germany s KfW Development Bank has provided approximately 190 million euros in grants and loans to the project, in addition to support from Denmark and Spain.

Also discussed was the great potential of solar energy, which could be used privately in Egypt s future but which is presently too expensive for wide implementation.

The chairman, the ambassador, and bank representatives all stressed the importance of increasing support for renewable energy, citing the obvious environmental benefits, as well as the long-term economic benefits of freeing up fossil fuels for export, where they receive significantly higher return than from the highly subsidized local market. It is a pity for any liter of oil to be used for electricity, said Ambassador Erbel.

Regarding nuclear energy, while Erbel stressed, Egypt does not need anybody s approval, he did clarify the reasons why Germany has moved away from nuclear energy, Our experience says not to do it . Germany opted out because of problems, especially regarding nuclear waste.

One of the greatest obstacles to implementation of renewable energy is the high cost involved, especially when competing with highly subsidized conventional energy sources. Different solutions were offered, including creating differential pricing for electricity (and water), so that the greatest consumers pay more, and partially de-subsidizing oil and gas. Ambassador Erbel sited Germany s extreme consumption efficiency as resulting from high costs, with German households consuming much less energy, and one-third of the water, that Egyptian households consume. People only learn [to save] when they have to pay.

Germany s KfW Development Bank is a not-for-profit bank involved in every stage of development projects, which in Egypt also include education, water, and drainage. They have worked in cooperation with the NREA, established in 1986, since the ’90s.

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