|Zafarana Wind Farm in Egypt (Flickr)|
Sunny Egypt Interested in... Wind Power
Egypt currently has a total electricity capacity of about 23,500 megawatts, which the government hopes to increase to 58,000 megawatts by 2027.
A prime potential element in increasing this electrical output?
One might think, given Egypt's climate, solar?
Wrong again - wind power, which currently contributes less than 1 percent to Egypt's energy mix.
In 2003 Egypt had its wind potential assessed and published a wind atlas, which found that with wind speeds of 7-10 meters per second, almost the entire nation was ideal for wind power installations, with the country's best areas being along the Gulf of Suez coast. Two years later the atlas's coverage was expanded to mapping the country's wind potential in detail and determined that large desert regions both to the east and the west of the Nile River, as well as parts of Sinai, have average annual wind speeds of 7-8 meters per second.
Three years ago, the government of former President Hosni Mubarak approved a progressive and ambitious project by 2020 to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewables, with 12 percent being generated by wind power. Mubarak's cabinet approved incentives for wind power development, including exemption from customs duties and 20 to 25 year power purchase agreements with government guarantees, a policy that the country's new transitional government has endorsed.
According to the World Bank, if the policy comes to fruition, then Egypt will realize a 7,200 megawatt wind power capacity, cut vehicle emissions through improved public transportation, and make industry more energy efficient.
Jonathan Walters, transport and energy manager for the World Bank's Middle East and North Africa regions, said that "high and persistent" winds in the Gulf of Suez suggest Egypt has "excellent potential for wind power - among the best in the world."