According to an article in Clean Technica, Egypt plans to achieve the target of getting 20% of its energy from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. Most of it will be wind power, but the solar energy program is also expanding. A country with so much sun, especially when energy prices are rising, definitely has to develop its potentials. The main problem with solar energy is that it is still quite expensive to produce electricity on a massive scale. However, on a small scale, it can be easier to implement and is quite practical. Around 2009-2010, photo voltaic (PV) panels were distributed by various development projects to Bedouin in South Sinai, but there were people who started experimenting with it from own resources even before that. Dr. Ahmed and Farhan Mohamed, pictured, were some of the first to use solar energy in their remote mountain gardens. Hmeid Abu Ghalaba was probably the first in St Katherine who made tea and cooked rice using the heat of the sun (Discover Sinai posted about it in 2010), but the practice didn’t quite kick off. I understand, making tea or food without the fire and smoke is just not the same, but these solar cookers can be useful in places where the water has to boil all day long. The PV panels distributed freely by the development organizations were well received, although sometimes the distribution wasn’t too even: in some remote places where people could make good use of solar energy, like the high mountains orchards, PV panels weren’t provided, while some other locations seem to be a bit saturated with them. But overall, South Sinai is really well covered: from Ras Sudr to Sharm el Sheikh and Taba, in the middle of the desert where Bedouin settlements are and at important water sources, you find solar panels. The PVs are used either to power water pumps or to produce electricity for homes. In these places relatively small amount of energy is needed: the water flow is small but the pumps work all day to fill up big stone water tanks, while the batteries are being charged in the houses to run power lights, telephone rechargers, maybe a TV or computer, for a few hours. In the past diesel pumps and generators were used for these purposes, so it is a great relief for the environment while people save money. Unfortunately, some of the pumps need repair and people themselves cannot really do that: they might fix the lights in the house, but pumps also need parts which people cannot get themselves. So, apart from providing PVs, training and maintenance are also very important. But the bottom line is, by going solar Egypt is on the right path to a brighter future!
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