Revving up renewables
Recurrent fuel shortages coupled with escalating power consumption are all the more reason to bet on depletable energy, Mahmoud Bakr
In an attempt to boost Egypt's production of alternative and renewable sources, the Higher Council of Energy (HCE) met last week. HCE discussed ways of encouraging private investment in wind and solar- generated energy. HCE also examined the possibility of setting up a special fund for solar energy.
According to Emadeddin Adli, chairman of Egypt's Consumer and Energy Organisation (CEO), Egypt needs to embrace alternative sources of energy. The CEO, Adli said, seeks to encourage users of energy to get organised and negotiate collectively in order to protect their rights. "Those who use energy should become partners in promoting energy efficiency and in achieving the gradual transition to renewable energy." CEO Secretary-General Mohamed El-Sawi pleaded for prompt finance to the CEO campaign to rationalise the consumption of energy and boost the production of clean energy. The campaign, which is already underway, uses catchy slogans such as "energy is yours" and "the people want to rationalise energy."
A study has already been produced in 2009 by the CEO and the Industry Modernisation Centre on how to bring down harmful emissions to 200 million tonnes by 2030 says CEO Deputy Chairman Emad Ghali.
According to Ahmed Kamal, director of the Environmental Commitment and Sustainable Development Office (ECSDO), renewable energy should constitute 20 per cent of the country's total production of energy by 2020. The ECSDO, he added, offers technical assistance for companies involved in renewable energy technology and is encouraging Egyptian industries to switch to renewable energy. The ECSDO has signed a partnership agreement with the Egyptian-German Programme, the German University, the American University in Cairo, and the Alexandria University, along with 13 Egyptian companies involved in solar energy to boost the production of alternative energy in the country.
Indeed, this is not an issue for Egypt alone but for the whole region. According to Mohamed El-Twegri, the Arab League assistant secretary-general for economic affairs, an Arab team of experts will go to Granada, Spain, shortly to discuss ways of transferring solar energy technology to Arab countries. This, El-Twegri said, is part of a larger scheme to enhance the production of clean energy in the Arab world. In fact, "in countries where the sun shines for nearly 340 days every year, solar energy is a logical choice," says environmental expert Mohamed El-Nazer.
Currently, 94 per cent of Egypt's total consumption of energy comes from fossil fuel, says Mohamed El-Sobki, director of the Cairo University Energy Research Centre. However, he said that current diversification efforts aim to increase reliance on hydroelectric, solar and wind energy. But Egypt has the capacity to generate 9.3 per cent of its total energy production from hydroelectric sources. The HCE has just approved plans to increase the share of renewable energy in the country's production to 20 per cent within the next two decades. Egypt's first solar-thermal power station, costing nearly LE2 billion, is expected to open in Kuraimat within months.