1.8-Gigawatt Benban Solar Farm In Egypt Can Power 1 Million Households

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The success of the Benban Solar Farm near Aswan, Egypt, demonstrates the impact that large scale clean energy projects can have on the energy matrix of North African countries. The largest solar park in Africa and the 4th largest solar farm globally, the park has an installed capacity of 1.8 GW and is the summation of 41 individual plants. The size and scope of the project is remarkable. The project can power over a million homes, totals over 37 square kilometers, and reduces carbon emissions in Egypt by two million tonnes per year.

Image: screenshot of ACCIONA video.

Along with reducing carbon emissions, the construction of the Benban Park created significant job growth as well as permanent maintenance positions. At least 20,000 jobs were created for the construction of the park and 6,000 permanent jobs were created for maintenance and management. The financing for this park can be used as an example for future large-scale renewable projects in Africa. For its development, the project was divided into 41 plots and assigned to 30 developers.

This project’s development was partially possible because of the Egyptian government’s “feed-in tariffs,” which guaranteed a fixed price for power generation over the next 25 years. This was combined with public support from both the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank. This combination of both private investment made possible through government tariffs and public investment through the World Bank ensures a strong flow of capital to renewable projects.

Image: screenshot of ACCIONA video.

Solar energy will undoubtedly play a significant role if Egypt hopes to reach its goal of producing 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2040. This goal is possible, in part, due to Egypt’s location. Egypt averages between 9 and 11 hours of sunshine per day, with a radiation intensity between 2,000 and 3,000 kilowatt-hours per square meter. By continuing to provide feed-in tariffs to developers, Egypt will be able to attract foreign investment in large-scale wind and solar projects. The Benban Park may play another important role in this transition — namely, as a solar school.

Authorities in the Aswan region intend to transition Benban Industrial High School into a solar energy training school, which will specialize in both electromechanical engineering and solar energy. The project is also influential through its early use of bifacial solar modules, which are capable of producing energy from both direct sunlight and from sunlight that is reflected from the ground. This increases the capabilities of the panels and leads to greater generation for the project as a whole. 

Perhaps the largest lasting impacts of the Benban solar farm is the evidence of viability for large-scale solar projects in Egypt. Feed-in-tariffs backed by the Egyptian government will reduce risk and promote private investment in further renewable projects. Future projects will have the added benefit of thousands of Egyptians who are now capable of installing large-scale solar projects, a skill that will only become more important as the clean energy industry grows. The Benban project is much more than an energy producer. It is proof of concept for continued large-scale renewable energy projects in Egypt. 

Featured image: screenshot of ACCIONA video.


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