The future of energy
Nothing grows here, 12 miles from the Nile. Yellow, flat, hot and barren, the desert stretches as far as the eye can see.
But the biggest renewable energy development in Africa is about to turn an impoverished stretch of southern Egypt into a source of renewal as vital as the river nearby.
By 2019, 37 square km of desert near the village of Benban, outside Aswan, will be covered with panels – a vast solar park made up of multiple plots allocated to different sponsors.
Developments such as Benban will not only change Egypt –which, though plentifully supplied with sun, currently has almost no solar generation – but also have revolutionary potential for the rest of the world.
As the global community grapples with becoming less dependent on polluting hydrocarbons, unexpectedly big drops in the cost of producing clean energy in the past two years have made it competitive with conventional energy in more and more countries.
This makes it likelier that solar and wind power – traditionally the preserve of tiny niche producers – could soon be scaled up to industrial levels that could help save the planet from runaway climate change.
“There is no denying we are in the midst of a revolution in the energy sector.”
(Nandita Parshad, EBRD Managing Director, Energy & Natural Resources.)