February 23, 2024

Masdar announced Tuesday a deal securing land in Egypt for the construction of what it said is Africa’s biggest wind farm.

The Emirati renewables company and its partners signed the agreement with Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority, progressing with the $10-billion project announced at the North African country’s hosting of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) last year.

The wind farm can produce 47,790 gigawatt hours a year, displacing an equivalent of nine percent of Egypt’s annual carbon emissions, or 23.8 million metric tons, state-owned Masdar said in a press release.

“The wind farm will also help Egypt meet its strategic objective of sourcing 42 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030”, Masdar, also known as Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., said. “The 10 GW plant will save the North African nation an estimated US$ 5 billion in natural gas costs a year”.

Africa’s third most populous country relies mainly on natural gas and oil for its energy needs. Natural gas accounted for 2.13 million terajoules (TJ) of the mix in 2020, while more than 1.25 TJ came from oil, based on the latest data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), released April 2023. Wind, solar and other sources—excluding coal, biofuels and waste, and hydro—contributed 31,460 that year, according to the IEA.

Egypt in its emissions reduction commitment submitted to the UN July 7, 2022 said the total installed capacity of its wind and solar power plants climbed 340 percent to 3,016 megawatts in 2019-20 against the prior five years.

It has pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent in the oil and gas sector, 33 percent in the electricity sector and seven percent in transport by 2030—its highest commitment. Toward these Egypt targets to boost biofuels production, introduce clean hydrogen in the mix and phase out coal, according to its National Climate Change Strategy 2050.

Masdar chair Sultan Al-Jaber, who is also Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) chief executive, said in the announcement, “It [the wind project] is a sign of the strong partnership between the UAE and Egypt, with great potential to create jobs, cut emissions and power homes with clean electricity at competitive economical costs. 

“The world needs to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”.

Al-Jaber, whom the United Arab Emirates designated as president for its hosting of COP28 later this year, added, “The UAE looks forward to hosting COP28, we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Global South in their efforts to decarbonize and secure a just energy transition”.

Al-Jaber, who as boss of ADNOC has faced opposition over his appointment to lead the UN’s main climate forum, has called for funding commitments to poor countries to help the world hit emission reduction targets. “The poorest nations make up over half of the world’s population yet account for just 12 percent of global emissions, when 800 million people have no access to energy at all”, he told the May 2-3 Petersburg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

Masdar said in the press statement it has “demonstrated its commitment to African nations by signing deals to develop renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of up to 5 GW in Angola, Uganda, and Zambia, in January”.

The COP, the decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, happens in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.

Egypt Electricity and Renewable Energy Minister said his country is pursuing investments in green energy not only for domestic use but also for export to Europe given its geographical location.

Besides the wind farm, Egypt and the UAE also inked at COP27 a pact involving Masdar to build a two-gigawatt green hydrogen factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone. It is scheduled to start up 2026, as announced by Masdar, November 16.

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