Egypt inaugurated the first solar power plant at a remote desert complex where the government plans to generate as much as 1.8 gigawatts from the sun, cutting the most populous Arab nation’s reliance on dirty and expensive fossil fuels.
The plant, developed by German Ib Vogt and a local company called Infinity Solar Systems, began supplying the national grid in December, Ib Vogt chief executive Anton Milner said on Tuesday. The 64MW facility is the first of 32 units that the government targets for construction at Benban Solar Park in southeastern Aswan province. The project, with all the plants, is to be completed next year at a cost of $2.8 billion.
“In this plant, we have 200,000 solar panels and 780 sun trackers that allow the panels to move toward the solar position throughout the day,” Amine El Edghiri, Ib Vogt’s project manager, said during a media tour of the facility 650 kilometers south of Cairo on the fringes of the Nubian Desert. The photovoltaic modules arrayed across 235 acres can produce enough power to supply 20,000 households, Mr. El Edghiri said.
Egypt currently produces more than 90 percent of its power from oil and natural gas, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Benban Solar park, along with other projects in planning, should help Egypt scale back its use of hydrocarbons as the country targets generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2022.