The Benban World's Largest Solar Park has an ambitious target to reach somewhere between 1.6 to 2 GW of solar power by the middle of 2019. This will provide clean energy to the fast-developing Egypt that it desperately needs for sustainable economic growth.
The project is not getting any incentives but, it will be granted a 25-year contract to sell electricity at 7.8¢/kWh to the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC). The price will be pegged to the value of the US dollar.
As things stand, 29 power plants in the park have received public financing of almost $1.8 billion and they account for nearly 1.5 GW of solar power. The World's Largest Solar Park is designed to house 32 power plants and all the plants are designed to be powered up by the mid of 2019 and will have a combined capacity of 1,650 megawatts of electricity.
Egypt has a population of 90 million and it the officials believe that 20 percent of the power can come from renewable sources by 2022. “The potential is endless,” says Lamya Youssef, the head of private sector power at the state-run Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company. “Because of the enormous increase in (Egypt’s) population, we need large investments in infrastructure, which the government cannot afford on its own. That’s why we need private sector investments.”
The land where the world’s largest solar farm is going up is one which has some of the best sunlight in the world. It is ranked higher than the US/Mexico western desert. However, it trails a little behind the Chilean desert highlands, which is considered the world’s best spot.
The Benban World's Largest Solar Park
The Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency (MIGA), an organization within the World Bank Group, is providing $210 million of political risk insurance to private lenders and investors involved in the solar park. International Finance Corporation (IFC) and a consortium of nine international banks will provide a $653-million debt package to finance construction of 13 solar power plants, which will join 19 other plants to make up the Benban Solar Park – the largest private-sector financing package for a solar photovoltaic facility in the Middle East and North Africa.
The World's Largest Solar Park is a huge accomplishment by Egypt and it will serve as an inspiration for other nations all around the world to follow this example and switch to renewables themselves.