Egypt Uses COP27 to Announce Large-Scale Renewable, Hydrogen Projects

The recent United Nations (UN) COP27 climate conference in Egypt was host to several announcements of large-scale renewable energy projects, including one of the world’s largest wind farms, along with an agreement for development of a renewable hydrogen industry across Egypt and the European Union (EU). India, meanwhile, announced what officials called a “long-term low-emission development strategy,” an initiative that reiterated a plan announced last year to develop a green hydrogen ecosystem. The program is designed to lower carbon emissions from hard-to-abate industrial sectors such as steel and fertilizer production, and refining, and also supports other climate goals.

1. Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt participate in a signing ceremony at the recent COP27 climate conference, marking an agreement for construction of a 10-GW wind farm. Courtesy: Masdar

Masdar, a renewable energy developer based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), announced plans for a 10-GW wind farm in Egypt (Figure 1), a project developed along with its Dutch joint venture company Infinity Power and Egypt’s Hassan Allam Utilities. Masdar representatives said the onshore wind project, the largest planned installation in the company’s global portfolio, will be part of what it called a “Green Corridor” initiative. That program has a goal of securing significant renewable energy and power grid infrastructure for Egypt by 2035.

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE energy minister, during an event to mark the project’s launch, said, “The scale of this mega 10-GW onshore wind project is a testament to the renewable energy ambitions of the UAE and the Republic of Egypt.” Egypt, which today relies mostly on oil and natural gas to fuel the country’s electricity production—the country had 1.7 GW of installed wind power capacity at the end of last year—has set a goal of having at least 42% of its power generation from renewable resources by 2035. Masdar officials said the new wind farm would produce nearly 48 TWh of power annually and replace $5 billion of natural gas. The company already has signed agreements to support construction of as much as 4 GW of green hydrogen production plants in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and along the coast of the Mediterranean.

The wind farm project is expected to create about 30,000 jobs during its construction phase, and provide indirect employment for another 70,000 people. Masdar officials said the farm, once operational, will support more than 3,000 operations and maintenance personnel. Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said: “With this agreement to develop our largest-ever project, Masdar is proud to bolster our contribution to Egypt’s renewable energy goals, while strengthening our partnerships with Infinity Power and Hassan Allam Utilities and building on our relationship with the Egyptian Government. We are confident this project will help provide clean and sustainable energy to Egypt’s people while ensuring the country meets its decarbonization commitments.”

The deal announced at the climate summit comes two months after Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest in September unveiled plans for his company, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), to build a 9.2-GW renewable energy project in Egypt using solar and wind power to produce green hydrogen and ammonia. Forrest in announcing the project said, “Egypt’s excellent wind and solar resources can generate the renewable energy required to produce large scale green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia. Egypt is on the way to becoming a global powerhouse in the green energy value chain.” Officials during COP27 said a hybrid wind-and-solar project that includes hydrogen production could support at least 4.5 GW of electrolyzers, or as much as 6.5 GW if the wind and solar resources are able to be optimized.

Egyptian officials at the climate conference touted the FFI project, noting the country has significant potential for wind and solar projects to help produce renewable energy and hydrogen. The EU is seen as the logical partner for exports of hydrogen.

Officials also during COP27 announced that Fertiglobe, Scatec, Orascom Construction, and The Sovereign Fund of Egypt began commissioning of “Egypt Green,” Africa’s first integrated green hydrogen plant, producing hydrogen from water using renewable energy. The plant is located at Ain Sokhna, along the Suez Canal Economic Zone. Officials have said renewable energy projects in the region could support an industrial hub, both with energy and hydrogen production, near global shipping lanes. Fertiglobe, known for its production of hydrogen and low-carbon ammonia, has said the project aligns with the company’s 100 MW of electrolysis already installed at Fertiglobe’s two existing ammonia plants in Ain Sokhna.

Terje Pilskog, CEO of Scatec, during COP27 said, “It is an honor to work together with Egyptian authorities and our industrial partners on this project and commence the commissioning of the green hydrogen project in Egypt during the UN world leader’s climate summit. We see a massive green hydrogen demand driven by strong policy support globally, and Africa is perfectly positioned to take advantage of its low-cost renewables and strategic position.”

Ayman Soliman, CEO of The Sovereign Fund of Egypt, said, “We are setting a precedent with our foreign and local partners from the private sector by establishing the first integrated green hydrogen plant in Africa and emerging markets that caters to the growing demand for clean energy. It is a moment of pride that we will build on for future generations. Our pipeline of projects in the green energy field capitalizes on Egypt’s ideal location with its unique renewables profile and proximity to markets with renewables deficits to realize our shared goal of emissions reduction.”

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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