Egypt to start building $15b wind farm from 2024

Governments are pouring money into wind and solar plants around the world as they seek to transition away from fossil fuels. PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO – The construction in Egypt of one of the world’s largest wind farms is set to start in 2024 and could provide electricity to Europe and Saudi Arabia, according to one of the main companies backing the US$11 billion (S$15 billion) project.

A consortium that includes Abu Dhabi-owned Masdar and Infinity Power Holdings will finish building the 10-gigawatt (GW) onshore plant by 2030, said Infinity Power chairman Mohamed Mansour. His uncle is an Egyptian billionaire with the same name.

That capacity is roughly one-fifth of what Britain has today for all its forms of renewable energy.

The Egyptian government will buy the power, some of which may be exported via existing and planned cables to Europe, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Libya, Mr Mansour said in an interview at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, which ended on Sunday.

The companies expect to secure land for the project in 2022, he added. They are looking at two locations in Egypt’s Western Desert, one near Minya and the other in Aswan, both of which have wind speeds that can reach 10m per second, according to the chairman.

Governments and investors are pouring money into wind and solar plants worldwide as they seek to transition away from fossil fuels and limit global warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels.

The consortium also includes Egypt’s Hassan Allam Utilities. Infinity Power is a joint venture between Masdar, the biggest renewable-energy firm in the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt’s Infinity.

The same group is also working on an Egyptian green-hydrogen facility that may be able to produce 480,000 tonnes of the fuel a year by 2030, said Mr Mansour. Around 80 per cent of the two projects will be financed through debt, while the rest of the money will come from equity.

While Infinity Power is able to secure funding for its projects, rising interest rates might lower the firm’s profits, said Mr Mansour.

“We look to optimise in other areas to make up for that setback,” he said. “This will make projects more costly.”

Africa expansion

Infinity Power aims to increase its capacity in Africa three-fold by 2025 to 3.75GW. It is considering projects in Zimbabwe, Guinea and Tunisia, and expanding in South Africa.

Africa “is where the power generation is mostly needed”, said Mr Mansour. “We believe in generating clean electricity through renewables and we believe that everybody has the right to access electricity.”

The continent has some of the lowest per-capita generation rates in the world, with regular blackouts in many countries holding back economic growth.

Infinity Power hopes to finalise the takeover of Amsterdam-based Lekela Power, which has about 1GW in wind-generation capacity, in January.

“The acquisition of Lekela is very strategic for us,” said Mr Mansour. “We are very knowledgeable in the solar technology space, while Lekela brings us wind expertise.” BLOOMBERG

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.