CAIRO: The Japanese government extended a $432 million soft loan to Egypt for a 220-MW wind farm project in the Gabal El-Zeit area on the western coast of the Gulf of Suez.
According to Aktham Abu El-Ela, a spokesman at the energy and electricity ministry, the soft loan extended to Egypt for the wind farm “has a 10-year grace period and will be paid back with around 0.3 percent interest over 40 years.”
Abu El-Ela explained that Japan, as part of its international commitments to combat climate change and pollution, invests in these kinds of projects.
According to the ministry’s website, Egyptian Electricity and Energy Minister Hassan Younis met Sunday with Japan’s Ambassador, Kaoru Ishikawa, recognizing his efforts to strengthen Egyptian-Japanese relations, particularly in the realm of renewable energy.
He credited the Japanese government for supporting several projects, including contributing to the implementation of a 120 MW wind farm project in April last year and a 140 MW solar energy station at Koraimat.
According to the ministry, this is in addition to contributing to technical assistance in the modernization of project control centers in the south of Egypt at Naga Hammadi and a 500 kV center at Samalut.
The centers were equipped with the latest technology and advanced programs to monitor and control higher voltage networks.
The government has recognized that wind conditions in Egypt are favorable to building more wind farms along the Red Sea coast.
According to Ibrahim Abdo, a site manager at the Zaafarana wind farm, the locations for these projects are studied for five years before the decision to build on them is made. Based on the studies conducted by Egypt’s Renewable Energy Authority, a wind atlas was produced showing the average wind speeds in different parts of Egypt, he added.
“We found that Gabal El-Zeit is one of the best places to build a wind farm in Egypt and even the world due to its fast and constant wind speeds throughout the year,” said Abdo.
“The average wind speed at Gabal El-Zeit is 10.5 m/s which is significantly higher than the fastest average wind speed areas in Europe,” Abdo added.
Sara El-Sayed, from the Wadi Environmental Science Center, said that there is one drawback to picking this location.
“This area is an area where many migratory birds pass so there are a lot of environmental issues as birds fly into the turbines, hitting the large blades,” said El-Sayed.
“Energy wise, however, wind farms in Egypt are definitely a good idea, as we have favorable wind conditions, which have been confirmed by wind atlas readings along that coastline,” said El-Sayed.
El-Sayed said Egypt should prioritize renewable energy over the nuclear option.
“The government’s aim is to have 20 percent of our energy come from renewable sources by 2020, which is a very ambitious, necessary and appropriate goal, but there definitely should be more investment in that area rather than in nuclear energy,” said El-Sayed.
Although nuclear energy is more rewarding in terms of output, El-Sayed asserted that, due to favorable conditions in solar and wind energy, renewable energy could potentially be a main source of electricity for the country.
El-Sayed explained that due to the way maintenance procedures are conducted, unethical businesses practices and failure to deal with crises in this country, there are many dangers to running nuclear energy plants.
“We don’t have a good record as a country in waste disposal and crisis management, we have to focus on energy projects that have fewer risks, like these wind farms,” El-Sayed concluded.