The eastern area of the Sahara Desert has some of the greatest solar power resources – sunlight – on the earth. It’s the second best spot in the world after the Chilean desert highlands. Benban Solar Park targets to reach somewhere between 1.6-2.0GW of solar power by the mid of 2019. Benban Solar Park’s land was originally placed out with 41 unique plots extending from 0.12mi2 to 0.39mi2. The total plot area of the park is roughly 14.4mi2.
Currently on this area, 29 projects have received funding – at least $1.8 billion. When they are finalized the total solar power gained from this area will be nearly 1.5GW.
Project stakeholders will get 25 year contract to sell their electricity at 7.8¢/kWh to the the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC). Powerlines and power substations allows centralization of electricity grid infrastructure – – enabling share of costs of expensive hardware with that dropping the cost of electricity.
Benban 1.8GW PV Solar Park, Egypt – Strategic Environmental & Social Assessment, Final Report. February 2016 (PDF – 220 pages) is the project analysis document an amazing breakdown of the considerations made when developing this project – environmental, employment, local villages, water, etc.
The park symbolizes some of the complex financial models – moderately supported by governments – that are coming together to help venture groups develop large-scale solar power projects at decent pricing. For example – to help allay the fears of bankers – the ‘Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency’ (MIGA), an organization of the World Bank Group, is providing $210 million worth of ‘political risk’ insurance to private creditors and financiers involved in the Benban Solar Park.
Egypt is increasingly turning to the sun for power as #solar has become competitive w/traditional generation. NEXTracker announced that it will supply 325MW of #NXHorizon trackers to the 1.6 GW Benban park: https://t.co/bzKnm1k6Zh @_sterlingwilson pic.twitter.com/s3e58O9yYn
— NEXTracker, Inc. (@NEXTracker) January 17, 2018
IFC and a consortium of nine worldwide banks will offer a $653 million debt package to finance creation of 13 solar power plants, which will link 19 other plants to make up the Benban Solar Park – the largest private-sector financing package for a solar photovoltaic facility in the Middle East and North Africa. The plants will cost a total of $823 million to construct, IFC said in a release.