2019, if all goes well, will see the connection of the world’s largest solar park. The Benban complex, which will cost an estimated $2.8billion total, is located in Aswan in Egypt’s Western Desert, approximately 400 miles south of Cairo.
The complex is a marvel of engineering, financing and human ingenuity, expected to generate as much as 1.8GW (giga-watts) of renewable electricity. This figure is enough to provide sustainable power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across Egypt.
Part of the second round of Egypt’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program, the Benban complex is ingeniously structured. The solar park has been subdivided into plots, each with a capacity of 50MW, allowing the complex to benefit from the input of several developers and investors implementing solar power projects. Once completed, the complex will consist of 41 separate solar farms, all connected together, and will employ around 4,000 people. All the renewable energy generated by the solar complex will be sold to the Egyptian Electrical Transmission Company (EETC), via a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Among the developers working on the Benban complex is a joint venture between Hassan Allam Utilities, and TAQA Arabia. The partnership is constructing a 50MW plot, which is being financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and other developmental financial institutions, all supporting the Government of Egypt’s initiative to diversify the country’s energy mix.
The site is expected to go into trial operations by the end of 2018, and is forecasted to begin commercial production in early 2019.