North African countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are showing a growing interest in the development and implementation of green technologies to meet their energy needs.
A market with great potential that sees Egypt among the most promising countries for new business opportunities. To focus on the country's growth opportunities, Res4Med (a network of utilities, companies and international research institutions for the promotion of the renewable energy sector in the Mediterranean) promoted an international conference in Rome: Renewable Energy in Egypt, challenges and opportunities for the Italian industry's investments in the sector. The event was organised by the association in cooperation with Enel Green Power and sponsored by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development.
Egypt has been undergoing a phase of political and social transition, heightened by frequent energy crises, along with a domestic market boom: nearly 90 million consumers and a growing annual electricity demand rate of 7 percent in the last decade. According to estimates presented at the conference, the country would need to install an additional capacity of 13 GW in 5 years in order to address the situation. Mohamed Salah El Sobki, Executive Chairman of NREA – New and Renewable Energy Authority (the Egyptian energy authority), explained that this objective has encouraged the Egyptian government to focus on renewables, developing a strategic plan to attract necessary investments of about €10 billion.
Egypt, said Mohamed Salah El Sobki, 'is working to achieve a goal of at least 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.' In order to reach the goal, it has adopted a framework with different offers where suppliers can compete, as well as a market model in which a direct relationship can be established with end users. In particular, a feed-in tariff system was introduced to facilitate the installation of at least 2.3 GW of solar power and 2 GW of wind power by 2017.
Francesco Venturini, CEO of EGP, highlighted that Enel Green Power has a great interest in this market: ' Recently, we have won 425 MW of new wind power in South Africa, while in the Mediterranean we are participating in various tenders (particularly in Morocco, Egypt and we are considering Algeria). This market is growing rapidly and has great potential.'
Moreover, at the Rome conference the initiative Coalition for Action was presented for the first time, a project promoted in 140 countries by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The goal is to provide accurate information on renewables, which today are a “mature” type of technology, dispelling some of the myths and stereotypes that continue to penalise them from being widespread, such as the idea that they are too expensive, non-programmable and have reduced performances.
These issues are being resolved thanks to the development of smart grids, intelligent networks that allow to distribute energy loads, overcome problems related to the discontinuity of green sources and which offer an interesting perspective, especially in developing countries where distribution networks are not well-structured and in some regions where they must be built almost from scratch.