The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has allocated USD 500 million to support Egypt’s solar energy program in 2016, the bank announced in a statement on its website on Monday.
According to the statement, the EBRD is prepared to finance “several plants up to USD 500 million and to mobilize up to USD 1.5 billion in debt and equity from other financiers.” Many of the projects, which will be constructed entirely by private firms, will be located in Upper Egypt and stand as the world’s largest solar park upon completion.
“Egypt currently relies to a large extent on traditional power generation fuelled by costly hydrocarbon imports,” the statement says, adding that Egypt has “world-class solar resources” and can therefore rely on solar energy to cover more of its energy needs.
The announcement comes as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in France to attend the Paris Climate Summit, where 140 world leaders are discussing measures to mitigate the effects of global warming.
Egypt has been diversifying its energy sources after suffering from severe shortages resulting in years of rolling blackouts during peak times.
Solar energy has been hailed as Egypt’s best bet when it comes to renewable energy sources.
Last month, the government made its first payment to a private citizen for providing energy generated by solar panels installed on the roof of his home that are connected to the government’s power grid.
In March, Egypt’s Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker announced the launch of a solar power plant in Siwa, in the country’s west. The plant was financed through an Emirati grant signed last year worth USD 140 million.
The Egyptian government has also said it intends to shift to solar power to cover all lighting in the resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh, which already relies on solar energy for 70 percent of its lighting.
Japan has also pledged USD 100 million to fund a solar power plant with a capacity of 200 megawatts in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada.
On Sunday, the country inaugurated the Gabal El-Zeit wind farm, which is set to produce 800 GWh of power annually. The wind farm took 30 months and USD 257.8 million to come to fruition and now represents the region’s largest operational wind farm, according to Egypt’s Electricity and Renewable Energy Ministry.
In February of this year, Egypt and Russia announced they will be cooperating in building Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in El-Dabaa. In November, the Egyptian and Russian nuclear authorities officially signed the agreement for the 9,600-megawatt plant, for which construction is due to commence in 2016.
As a whole, Egypt seeks to source 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.