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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Egypt inaugurates Benban’s first solar plant

First solar facility in USD 2.8 bn Benban park is inaugurated: Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker inaugurated yesterday Infinity Solar and Ib Vogt GmbH’s 50 MW solar power plant in Benban, Aswan, Ahram Gate reports. The inauguration of the plant, which began feeding the national grid in December, makes Infinity and Ib Vogt the first to complete a solar power plant under the feed-in tariff program — and marks the beginning of the largest solar power park in the Middle East. The plant features solar panels and sun trackers “that allow the panels to move toward the solar position throughout the day,” Ib Vogt project manager Amine El Edghiri tells Bloomberg. Upon completion next year, the USD 2.8 bn Benban park is expected to generate around 1.8 GW of solar power.

Who would have thought this was possible during the imbroglio that was the first phase of the feed-in tariff debate? As a business community, we are too often so focused on future opportunities and daily friction that we fail to celebrate victories. Benban was an audacious idea on the drawing board a few short years ago, and pundits whined at the time that Egypt would never get its act together to harness the power of the sun. Today, it is starting to come online thanks to the leadership of the private sector and a boatload of de-risking by development finance institutions and international lenders. This is worth an extra cup of celebratory (perhaps, even, fortified?) coffee this morning.

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