In 1999, there were no iPhones, no social media, and landlines were used to connect to the internet. The euro was just born, the first Matrix movie hit theatres, and everyone was waiting for the end of the world that computers were supposed to cause at the change of the millennium.
What else was happening in 1999? The Global Environment Facility and its partners proposed a grant for an Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) technology, also known as the Ain Beni Mathar ISCC power plant. With 20 MW CSP component and a total of 472 MW generation capacity, this world’s largest ISCC power plant at that time demonstrated a bold and innovative endeavor of the GEF in Africa.
“At the time, development and investment of thermal solar plants were very expensive and risky. Worldwide, there were only nine CSP plants with a total of 354 MW were in operation in California’s Mojave Desert. CSP technologies were considered only for developed countries. It required vision and the patience of GEF grant funding to facilitate building a facility of this type and magnitude in a more risky developing country context,” said Ming Yang, a Senior Climate Change Specialist at the GEF. “GEF’s support of the project, regardless of the challenges involved, added credibility and really helped the further promotion and adoption of solar technology across the globe,” he continued.