EGYPT – Africa50, an independent infrastructure fund established by the African Development Bank is partnering with thirty international infrastructure developers in investing in Egypt’s 1.5GW Benban solar park, Africa Energy Portal has reported.
According to Africa Energy Portal, the US$4 billion project will upon completion become the world’s largest solar park.
The 37-square-kilometre solar park will be equipped with over seven million photovoltaic panels, and will be so large that it can be seen from space.
The solar energy potential in Egypt, a country known for year-round sunny days, has long tempted investors.
The high cost of solar plants made it to be abandoned in favour of climate-warming fossil fuels, accounting for 90% of its power generation.
Now that the prices of its components have fallen, solar energy has become competitive, allowing Benban Solar Park to become a reality.
Upon Commissioning, the Benban Solar Park project, will provide clean energy to hundreds of thousands of households and will help Egypt to reach its target of generating 20% of its power from renewable sources by 2022.
According to Africa50 CEO, Alain Ebobissé, “Benban is a good example of how we use early-stage project development expertise and financing to rapidly bring projects to financial close and then add equity to encourage broader financing.”
With a 25% stake in the project, Africa50 is one of the largest contributors to the Benban Solar park.
Africa50 contributed equity to fund construction, alongside Scatec Solar and Norfund, which helped leverage total funding of around $450 million from the other development financial institutions.
Africa Energy Portal notes that apart from financing the project, the consortium is also pioneering the use of bifacial solar modules, capturing the sun from both sides of the panel to increase generation.
The innovations of the Benban project could thus provide valuable insights for the Desert to Power programme which is led by the African Development Bank.
The Desert to Power program, with which Africa50 is associated, aims to develop 10GW of solar power across the Sahel by 2025 and supply 250 million people with green electricity, including in some of the world’s poorest countries.
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