Egyptian wind moves at last with Danish contract

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After years of project planning and false starts, a contract has been signed for Denmark's first 30 MW contribution to a wind power station at Zafarana in Egypt. German-Danish wind company Nordex was chosen by Denmark's overseas aid organisation, Danida, to supply 50, 600 kW units to "Component 1" of the project. Worth DKK 185 million (Euro24.87 million), the contract is the first step in a target for 600 MW of wind power in Egypt by 2005, set by the country's New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), a division of the energy ministry.

NREA has broken the goal into two 300 MW tranches, beginning with a request for 60 MW from five countries each (Windpower Monthly, September 1998). With Denmark setting the project in motion, Germany is expected to follow shortly; other potential donor countries are further behind.

Nordex won the Danish contract because of the "sufficient quality" of its turbines and the best power production price. "We compared price per kilowatt hour produced from all the companies in Denmark, and Nordex had the best value of production," says Andrzej Brones of COWI Consult, the Danish firm overseeing the tendering process for Danida.

Nordex will build the turbines at its factory in Give, Denmark, and plans to supervise the local construction of the foundations and tubular towers in Egypt. The company expects to install the machines in three phases starting this summer, with all units slated to be on line in 2001. The desert site, two kilometres from the Red Sea and some 70 kilometres north of Hurghada, has an impressive average wind speed of 9.1 m/s. Nordex estimates the output of the turbines will be 134 million kWh a year.

Danida is now ready to move forward with the second 30 MW share of the Danish contribution, but NREA is still discussing its credit options, including the possibility of a mixed credit loan. The decision date has been pushed back indefinitely, Brones says.

Germany's overseas development bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), is still evaluating tenders -- one from Nordex included -- for the first 20 MW component of the German contribution. KfW stresses that Denmark's choice of Nordex for the Danish portion of the project will not exclude the company from being considered. The choice will be made on strict competitive grounds, says KfW. It expects to choose a turbine supplier before the end of next month.

The Netherlands is conducting feasibility studies in order to determine whether it will participate at Zafarana, and Spain and Japan have also been approached to contribute, but no other progress has been made yet, says Brones. Any mention of a timeline, he adds, is out of the picture. "It's Egypt, so that's impossible to say. Maybe this year."

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