Energy minister predicts boom for wind and solar

According to Egypt's energy minister, Osman Abaza, in less than eight years electricity production from wind and solar in the country will be five times greater than it is today. His claim was made to foreign reporters in Cairo at the end of October following the long awaited construction start of a wind farm at Zafarana, about 200 kilometres south of Cairo. The Zafarana project -- with plans for a total of 80 MW of capacity -- is being built with the help of German and Danish expertise and overseas aid funding. It will eventually produce about half of Egypt's non traditional electricity when completed just after the year 2000. Abaza adds that Egypt's electricity demand is growing by 12-14% annually. Most is produced from coal and hydro, but wind and solar will be 5%, or one twentieth, of the country's generated electricity by 2005. Potential for wind is huge along the Red Sea, Gulf of Suez, South Sinai and the Oweinat oasis area in the western desert and investors, both public and private, are vying to inject money into wind, says Abaza. Modest wind projects were built over the past decade using Danish technology near coastal cities such as Hurghada, Ras Ghareb, and Zafarana. Solar energy, less developed than wind, is mostly used in new resort areas along the Red Sea, on the northern coast and in villages that are not connected to the grid. In 1996, Egypt generated some 54.4 billion kWh of electricity and consumed 45.6 billion kWh. By 2000, it is estimated that the fast-growing country will need 101 billion kWh yearly.