A few places are as barren as the Western Desert in Northern African’s Sahara belt. 681,000 square kilometres of uninhabited sand and rock, over two-thirds of Egypt’s total area, has laid dormant for thousands of years until now.
The Benban Solar Park located near the Southern city of Aswan has created an unprecedented level of activity in the region, owed to the 1.8-gigawatt installation, the first utility-scale PV plant in Egypt. The ambitious project is a critical element of Egypt’s efforts to increase its generation capacity and reform the power sector by incorporating more renewable sources into the mix. The solar park aims to make a significant contribution to Egypt’s goal of covering 20% of its total energy demand from renewable energies and create thousands of job opportunities within the region.
With solar power, one of the fastest growing energy sources and the enviable solar resources available within the region, the solar park and location, make for a perfect pairing. Six million solar panels later, the Benban Solar Park—more than 32 contiguous solar projects across 36 square kilometers of Egyptian desert—is one of the largest solar installations in the world. It will generate over 2,000 megawatts of power, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, providing the clean energy required to drive continued growth for the country.
Throughout the development, Wood partnered to bring the solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant to commercial operation, making a substantial contribution to the Infinity 50 solar park, part of Benban’s solar development complex. The 64.1 MWp Infinity 50 Solar Park, is anticipated to produce over 110,000 MWh per year – enough electricity to power almost 69,000 homes.
The Wood team supported Bayerische Landesbank and the Arab African International Bank as lenders’ technical advisor, undertaking pre-construction technical due diligence and construction monitoring through to commercial operation. Representing a landmark in the development of renewable energy infrastructure in the MENA region, the solar array will also prevent over 1,293,000 t of CO2 emissions during its lifetime.
As part of the project scope, Wood engineers and consultants undertook pre-construction technical due diligence including site assessment, technology review, technical design review, independent energy yield analysis, contract review, and environmental and social review. After three years of work, the project to bring Africa’s largest solar park to life is now complete and all plots are now operational. This landmark project has already directly impacted Benban through the employment opportunities presented and the economic growth of the surrounding communities, whilst accelerating the renewable energy ambitions across the entire nation.
As the first major utility-scale solar plant in the country it was a complex undertaking, but successfully executed, to secure a reliable energy supply through unlocking the capability of the abundant solar resources available. Wood has proudly partnered with clients to deliver over 200 solar projects across the globe, including 35GW of solar PV projects and the IFC solar guidebook. Our history of leading extensive solar engineering, procurement, construction and advisory solutions across medium to large scale solar farms, remains a key contributor in our quest to drive a sustainable energy future.