Minister of Electricity Mohammed Shaker (Photo: Al-Ahram)

On Tuesday, Egypt's Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker inaugurated the first phase of the Benban solar park in Aswan.

The event celebrates Infinity Solar’s 50MW power plant, which began trial operation last December, Ahram online reported. Read more: Infinity 50 Solar Park reaches financial close

The PV Park is being developed under the feed-in-tariff (FiT) renewable energy programme, occupying 37 square-kilometers.

On completion, the park is expected to host a total capacity of 1.8GW, making it the largest planned solar installation in the world.

Benban solar park

The project is expected to abate up to 100,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per annum, supporting Egypt’s emission reduction targets under the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as promoting sustainable energy development and private sector participation in the country’s energy landscape.

Ahram online reported that so far 30 solar projects have achieved financial close, with over $2.2 billion in financing, according to Zulficar & Partners Law Firm who advised the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) on the second round of the feed-in-tariff solar programme in Benban.

The 30 projects have an aggregate installed capacity of 1.6 GW, media reported.

Financial backing

In an earlier report, it was highlighted that the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and Alfa Solar Co signed facility agreements for a $28,5 million Shariah-compliant senior financier to part-fund the development, construction and operation of the Benban solar complex.

Additionally, the pair is partnering with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is providing the project with a matching conventional loan facility.

In October last year, an Egyptian renewable energy developer and Germany-based solar partner, secured a $87 million syndicated loan for the construction and operation of two solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants at the Benban complex in Upper Egypt.

The funds were pooled from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO).

EBRD explained: “ Each development will be funded through loans of $87 million under an A/B structure, comprising EBRD A Loans of $58 million, of which $44 million will be from the Bank’s own account and $14 million from the Green Climate Fund.

“FMO will provide B Loans of $29 million. The development consortium was supported by Synergy Consulting and Solizer, which acted as transaction advisors for the two projects.”

Ayaan Adam, Private Sector Facility Director for the Green Climate Fund, commented: “This first investment with the EBRD under our Egypt Renewable Energy Financing Framework project is a big step forward. It shows the potential for public and private climate finance to drive the transition to low-emission energy in support of Egypt’s climate goals.”

EBRD added: “The investment is part of the EBRD’s $500 million EBRD framework for renewable energy in Egypt, adopted by the Bank’s Board of Directors earlier this year. The framework aims to develop Egypt’s potential in renewables and strengthen private sector involvement in the power and energy sector.

The Benban project is set to be completed by mid-2019.