Hany Mahmoud El Nokrashy, energy expert and member of the president’s advisory council, believes that Egypt’s future lies in renewable energy and that this year, the government must begin the implementation of an integrated plan for solar energy projects in order to achieve security and sustainability.
How can we achieve self-sufficiency in electricity?
I have presented a five-year plan to attract foreign investments and establish solar energy plants over the upcoming period. The cost of this plan’s implementation until 2050 is $1.223bn. It will greatly contribute to achieving electricity self-sufficiency.
It is very likely for challenges to face Egypt by 2050, especially that the population will reach 120 million, and their water needs will reach 120 billion cubic metres, while what we have now is only 70 billion.
Can Egypt implement this plan? How many solar energy plants does the country need?
Egypt has all the ingredients for success in order to achieve a leap in the field of solar energy, but it lacks the will to begin implementation. We need to launch 100 solar energy plants with capacities ranging between 20 MW and 50 MW per plant. The cost of establishing the plants are not high and will decline gradually, especially since there is modern technology involved in establishing the plants, which will enable the state to reduce the cost of launching the plants.
Why was not the plan implemented despite your presence within the president’s advisory council?
My mission is only advisory not executive. It is limited to offering consultation to the president, not monitoring the government’s work.
I have presented the integrated plan for the plants to the minister of electricity; however, it was not discussed until now.
Do laws and legislations encourage investing in renewable energy?
Renewable energy supported and encouraged by the law is limited to only two types, which are wind energy and solar photovoltaic energy. Even though we do not deny their existence in Egypt, there are many other types that can also be utilised, such as thermal and water storage solar energy, or the energy resulting from burning agricultural wastes. They all produce electricity on demand and must be supported.
The trend to use thermal storage solar energy, which depends on sunlight being stored to enable the plants to work at night, will help increase production and find new work opportunities for young people.
How does Egypt utilise its renewable energy resources?
The most suitable thing for Egypt is to utilise the energies available on its land, rather than look at other people’s experiences and copy them. Germany does not have much sun heat; hence, they only benefit from its light. We, on the other hand, have sun beams all year long, which require thorough studying by us to benefit from them.
Using thermal energy is necessary for development because of its high revenues and low costs, especially with the challenge of the lack of water and the individuals’ share of it.
What was the scheme you presented to the electricity minister to establish solar power plants?
We must work on local manufacturing of standard solar energy plants with capacities ranging between 20 MW and 50 MW. They must be made in groups, and the best location for them is above the development corridor near the valley. Each group has five plants that are connected through sub networks. They can be self-sufficient in summer.
Thermal storage solar energy plants will help Egypt without importing fuel to produce electricity and there will be no need to establish nuclear power plants, because the former are characterised by the same performance, but are quicker in terms of construction and installation to service lines. They do not produce dangerous wastes, cost less as production units increase, and their components are locally manufactured; hence, they open large opportunities for work and establishing complementary industries.
These plants will not need electric connection to the network which saves costs. Each plant gets established near the demand location, making transmission lines smaller.