Egypt’s wind power potentialDecember 13, 2021
Faisal Eissa, general manager of Lekela Egypt, talks to The Energy Year about Egypt’s wind power potential, the scope of the company’s West Bakr wind farm project and where it sees future opportunities. Lekela is a renewable power generation company that delivers utility-scale projects across Africa.
What have been Lekela’s main developments in Egypt since entering the market in 2016?
Lekela is a young company. We’ve only been around for five to six years but we’ve reached more than 1.3 GW of projects, between our portfolio and those under construction. Our focus is on Africa. We developed a lot in this short time in a very tough market because Africa still has limited opportunities. You have to make sure that you target the right projects to implement in Africa. Overall, I see the company’s progress as a great success.
What are the details of the company’s West Bakr wind farm?
The project is 250 MW. It’s a very big project for any company to handle, implement and manage properly. The 250 MW of generation puts us in a very good position to develop and invest more in Egypt in the coming years. Lekela has 100% equity via its main shareholders. We don’t have a partner in the project.
In terms of the structure and following the BOO model, the project is a very important milestone for Lekela. First of all, with this project, we will contribute to the government’s 2022 targets. It’s a key project for the government to meet its targets. For Lekela, it’s a huge project because it will get our portfolio across the 1 GW-plus mark. It changes the whole size of the company.
This project has a lot of new aspects for Lekela. It’s the biggest turbine project in Egypt, with 96 SG 2.6-114 turbines installed by Siemens Gamesa. It’s also the first big project that we will handle as a single block. In South Africa, we have multiple 100-MW projects, but in Egypt, it is one block of 250 MW.
Taking into account Egypt’s excess power generation, how do you view the opportunities in renewable energy in the country?
We have discussed this directly with the energy minister. The minister said that even though we have excess energy today, that doesn’t mean that it will jeopardise our renewable energy plan tomorrow. It’s totally independent from Egypt’s renewable energy plan. The targets for the renewable energy plan are always driven by environmental targets and commitments from the country. It’s not related to the issue of excess energy.
The potential of wind is close to 2.5 GW of projects in the next three years. Wind’s potential is huge in the Gulf of Suez. I see it being developed under the BOO scheme.
Do you have any plans for targeting specific developments in Egypt in the future?
We are very interested in any projects coming in the Gulf of Suez and the East and West Nile.
We are willing to invest in another project the size of the West Bakr wind farm. Any opportunity that would couple renewable energy with desalination or hydrogen would be very important to us.
What is the relevance of feed-in tariffs for renewable energy developments in Egypt?
In my experience, these tariffs are a scheme that only triggers the market. It’s not a scheme that sustains any market, as is seen in Europe and countries around the world. It’s a good scheme to kick-start renewables, but you need to find another scheme that fits your country or situation to continue with their development. The feed-in tariffs have done a good job but, in the future, I don’t think it will help because it requires a lot of commitment from the government, which has made it very clear that they do not want this type of commitment.
What is Lekela’s global medium-term strategy?
Lekela would easily accommodate another project of the same 250-MW scope with the government as a direct offtaker. We will also be looking at private opportunities, either in powering private desalination, green hydrogen or private IPPs. We can consider such projects at the size of 50 MW or larger.