By Rana Yehia
The first session of the second annual Energy and Future of Investment in Egypt conference, entitled “Investment challenges in new and renewable energy”, kicked off Monday, tackling the feed-in tariff and issues with contracts.
Since Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s approval of the feed-in tariff, lands are being allocated for renewable energy projects, said head of the New and Renewable Energy Authority, Mohamed El-Sobky.
A total of 35 allied investments groups are proceeding to apply for lands to launch projects. Egypt has 136 sites for renewable energy projects, with 87 for solar energy and the rest for wind energy, El-Sobky added.
He said there are lands for all investors across Egypt, noting that on both sides of the Nile, there exists a potential 50,000 MW of solar energy and 30,000 MW of wind energy.
“Egypt has a perfect climate for the renewable industry, and is one of the best for solar and wind,” said CEO of Lekela Power, Chris Antonopoulos.
The improvement of political stability is clear for investors, encouraging further investments. The government as well is seeking to simplify and facilitate investments in Egypt, Antonopoulos added.
The government is moving forward with its commitments, aiming to produce 6,000 MW in the next two years from renewable energy, Antonopoulos noted.
“We produce highly reliable, sustainable energy with zero fuel coast, where there is no need to export fuel,” Antonopoulos added. “Egypt is a key country to our success, we have just completed the application for investing but we couldn’t sign today.”
“Building Energy is an Italian company that has 230 projects in Africa,” said Managing Director of Building Energy in MENA, Cornelius Matthes.
Matthes noted that while there are many obstacles, the company is optimistic as the Egyptian government listens and is ready to resolve problems. Building Energy can further create thousands of job opportunities in Egypt, which would benefit the country’s development, Matthes signalled.
Deputy CEO of Orascom Egypt Tamer Al-Mahdy noted that “Orascom created a joint venture with Lafarge to invest in biomass projects in Egypt during the Economic Summit”.
There is a huge potential to use biomass in producing electricity, with Egypt producing 20,000 tonnes of waste, through which 600 to 1000 MW can be produced, Al-Mahdy added.
Biomass energy projects can save $500m in importing coal, providing about 50,000 job opportunities, said Al-Mahdy.
Producing gas is the advantage of using biomass that is not available in solar and wind energy, providing the gas needed in many industries, Al-Mahdy added.
Investors have a strong appetite to invest in this sector, but we need the framework that we can work through, he added.
“We need to know what the time frame to start working is; money is ready, equipments and workers are ready,” Al-Mahdy said.
Further, CEO of Enara energy and Industrial investment, Sherif El-Gabry, said that the market has to be competitive with numerous companies from all over the world. Competition will reduce electricity fees in the future, he added.
The energy problem is a natural result of the lack of development from 2011 to 2013, General Manager of Pagesco, Sherin Mosbeh said.
Moreover, regarding individual rooftop solar cells projects, El-Sobky said that the government announced with the feed-in tariff that it will finance small projects such as those.
He further expected the completion of the PPA by the second half of June.