The use of coal as a source of energy “is not a wrong solution” and has been adopted by 42 countries, said Nehad El-Kordy, undersecretary of the gas studies department within the Ministry of Petroleum, in a Sunday interview with Daily News Egypt.
An energy supply shortage at cement factories and a heavy energy consuming industry, has prompted the government to promote using “alternative sources of energy”, included coal, she said.
Coal is well known for its negative environmental impact, but El-Kordy said harmful emissions can be controlled using modern filters and other methods.
“Egypt already has the needed regulations to implement coal usage in factories,” El-Kordy said.
Habiba Ramadan, a researcher of environmental issues at the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Studies, said cement factories are pressuring the Ministry of Industry to allow the use of coal. But, Ramadan said, Egypt will have to import coal from other countries, “which implies that this is a high-cost solution.”
Ramadan noted that using coal would not only have negative environmental effects, but would also have social and economic effects. “Some cement factories are located in heavy residential areas such as Helwan,” she said. As a more appropriate and low-cost solution, Ramadan suggested using waste as a source of energy.
Minister of Environmental Affairs Laila Iskandar also strongly rejected using coal as a source of energy, state-run news agency MENA reported on Thursday.
In order to be “politically independent”, Egypt should not depend on foreign energy resources to meet its needs, Iskandar said, adding that using coal will cause health problems for Egyptians after 30 years.
Because of its polluting effects, Iskandar said a decision to rely on coal would be met with sanctions from the international community.
“Issuing the decision of using coal should be made by an elected parliament, because such decisions have to be represented by the people,” Ramadan said.
Meanwhile, Tamer Abu Bakr, head of the energy division in the Federation of Egyptian Industries, told Alborsa newspaper on Saturday that there is no alternative for using coal in cement factories.
Cement’s production deficit is estimated at around 10 million tons per year due to energy shortage, Abu Bakr said. Cement factories depend on a government decision to allow using coal.
Egypt’s current energy shortage was expected to occur in 2022, according Anhar Hegazy, head of the energy efficiency department at the state-owned Information and Decision Support Centre.
To best address the energy shortage problem, Hegazy said the government should work on reforming energy subsidies and enhancing renewable energy usage.
The cabinet discussed new and renewable energy sources during a meeting earlier in March as a possible solution to the cement factory energy issue. The government also plans to produce 20% of the country’s energy through new and renewable energy by 2020, 12% of them will be generated using wind energy, former Minister of Electricity Ahmed Imam said in February.