NARI, TSK vie for 26-MW Egyptian PV plant
Thursday, Dec 07, 2017
Chinese photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturer NARI Solar Energy Technology and Spanish renewable energy developer TSK Group have emerged as the only two clean power plant developers in the race for an Egyptian solar project.

The tender, for the construction of a 26-MW PV plant, also included three other prequalified bidders including Shanghai Electric, Sterling & Wilson and equipment manufacturer TBEA China, but they did not submit their US$593,250 letters of guarantee as required by the country’s New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), the governmental agency which acts as both project developer and regulator.

The PV plant, located in Kom Ombo in the solar-rich Aswan region, is being financed partly by Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) via a US$43 million loan. Financing for the project, which is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2018, covers the infrastructure and a contract for the operational and maintenance of the plant for three years, according to reports in Egyptian media.

DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability, part of DNV Group, and Cairo-based Environmental Research & Consulting Company (ERCC) carried out the technical and economic viability studies and environmental impact assessments.

The project is one of the smaller developments in Egypt’s larger plans to expand renewables use. The country has an estimated direct radiation of 2,000 to 3,000 kWh per square metre annually, and in 2012 approved a solar energy development plan that entails adding 3,500 MW of capacity by 2027 – comprised of 2,800 MW of PV and 700 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP).

In 2014 the government announced updated plans for a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) regime, under which it would contract 4,300 MW of capacity from both solar and wind. By 2017, it envisioned the addition of 300 MW of small-scale solar systems, and 2,000 MW of medium and larger PV plants. Yet a slow flow of finance from international lenders, and issues over dispute resolution clauses have held back many of the projects that would have enabled it to achieve this target.

Currently, Egypt operates two solar plants, the largest of which is the Kuraymat solar thermal power plant, begun six years ago with financing from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and Japan Bank for International Development. Although rated at 140 MW, only 20 MW of capacity is based on parabolic-trough technology, and is integrated with a larger combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant.

In addition, Egypt operates a 10-MW PV plant at Siwa, where additional capacity is expected soon, once the first solar projects approved under the country’s FIT programme get underway.

Longer term, the forecast is rosier, with a raft of projects securing finance by the late October deadline. Indeed, on December 5, the Nubian Suns programme – a portfolio of 13 PV projects in Aswan – announced that it had reached financial close. The plants, making up 752 MW of capacity, will form part of the even larger Benban solar complex, and are expected to be completed in Q1 2019.

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