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September 2, 2021

Egypt plans renewable-based desalination plants

Sovereign wealth fund seeks partners to build, own and operate 17 plants.

By MEED   

Egypt plans to develop up to 17 desalination plants utilising renewable energy.

The plants will require up to $2.5bn in investment, according to Bloomberg, citing Egypt Sovereign Fund CEO Ayman Soliman.

MEED understands the programme entails Egypt Sovereign Fund partnering with local and foreign investors to build, own and operate these plants, which are expected to run on solar power and other renewable energy sources.

The plants are expected to have a combined capacity of 2.8 million cubic metres a day (MMm³/d), as part of the country’s broader plan to increase overall desalination capacity by 6.4Mm³/d by 2050.

Five-year programme

In July last year, Egypt announced a five-year programme to develop 47 desalination plants worth an estimated $2.8bn.

The programme is expected to increase the country’s overall desalination capacity by 2.44m³/d by the end of 2025.

It is understood the planned desalination facilities will be located across several governorates, including North and South Sinai, Suez, Ismailia, Port Said, Dakahlia, Kafr e-Sheikh, Beheira Matrouh and the Red Sea coast.

The New Urban Communities Authority (Nuca), General Organisation for Physical Planning and Holding Company for Water & Wastewater (HCWW) will oversee the programme.

The programme has four phases. The initial phase will focus on the most water-scarce areas of North and South Sinai, Matrouh and the Red Sea. It entails the construction of 19 desalination plants with a combined total capacity of 312,000m³/d.

The first phase is estimated to cost $428.6m.

The second phase involves the construction of seven desalination plants with a combined total capacity of 335,000m³/d, at a cost of $413m.

The third phase entails $1.85bn-worth of investment for the development of 19 desalination plants.

In the fourth and final phase, the government plans to develop two desalination plants with a combined total capacity of 100,000m³/d.

Water security

Egypt has been under pressure to boost water security. Its freshwater withdrawal has exceeded total renewable water supply since 1997, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The country is also embroiled in a long-standing dispute over the $5bn Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (Gerd).

Built some 3,000km upstream on the Blue Nile, the reservoir will trap 70 billion cubic metres of water in its 175m wall.

It threatens to further exacerbate water scarcity issues in Egypt, which is heavily reliant on the Nile.


Energy Transition in the Middle East    

A major new report from MEED looks at how the global shift away from fossil fuels is reshaping energy policy in the Middle East and North Africa, and its impact on business and project investment. 

Learn more about the report here


This article is published by MEED, the world’s leading source of business intelligence about the Middle East. MEED provides exclusive news, data and analysis on the Middle East every day. For access to MEED’s Middle East business intelligence, subscribe here.

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