The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) in partnership with Heinrich Böll Stiftung (North Africa Office) launches “80 Gigawatts of Change, Egypt’s Future Electricity Pathways”, the first report of its kind to be modeled and analyzed by civil society. ‘80 GWs’ models how Egypt’s electricity sector could look in 20 years’ time if technical, social and environmental constraints and community impacts are taken into account.
The report, which was a result of a participatory drafting process engaging different stakeholders, offers seven different energy pathways, each with different implications including costs, greenhouse gas emissions, job creation, impacts of pollution and what infrastructure is required . These seven pathways are based on a vision for Egypt to develop sustainably, creating stable jobs for Egyptians, building the capacity of communities to generate their own sources of clean energy, reducing the environmental impacts from generating energy – such as air, water and land pollution – and to ensure that Egypt is well placed to be self sufficient in meeting its energy needs now and into the future.
For the first time, this study shows that Egypt has the potential to build a large energy efficiency industry that creates thousands of jobs, reduces the total demand for electricity, brings citizens’ bills down, costs less for the government to implement and which reduces the country’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint.
The study assesses nuclear energy for example, and finds it to not be a viable part of a future energy mix for Egypt; where it concludes nuclear to be the most expensive pathway available, costing 23.7 billion USD, and potentially posing extreme risks to human lives and the environment in Egypt.
Job creation is a central focus of the benefits offered by the energy pathways in ‘80 GW of Change’. The study identifies that there are large job markets waiting to be created in Egypt, through a huge roll out of energy efficiency measures, and, from the manufacturing and installation of renewable energies such as photovoltaic solar
panels and local biomass plants. The report has found that the more agricultural and sewage biomass is used to generate electricity, the higher the total job creation of a pathway. The coal pathway for example would create almost half the number of jobs that an efficient business as usual pathway would.
With 11 billion USD already pledged for three coal fired power stations in Egypt, the study maps what a 14% penetration of coal would look like , and it is seen that adding coal to the business as usual energy mix would cost 16.1 billion USD more than meeting efficient demand through expansion in natural gas and small amounts of wind and solar. Energy generation that uses fossil fuels – particularly coal and oil – will contribute to the degradation of Egypt’s Nile Delta and its agricultural land, the quality of its water, the health of the coral reefs on the Red Sea and global climate change. With only 13.2 billion USD, the study concludes that Egypt can move towards energy independence in 20 years, using renewable energies and natural gas. And with 19.5 billion USD, a sustainable and participatory energy future for Egypt can be created by decentralising how energy is generated, building community ownership of energy sources, bringing power cuts down to zero, feeding growing demand and handing over power to the locals, not foreign businesses.
The study is a culmination of inputs, solutions and concerns voiced by wide stakeholder engagement – with small and medium enterprises, industry professionals, human and environmental rights organizations, social economists, human geographers, environmental consultants and policymakers – with the aim of building a vision for a more equitable electricity sector in Egypt, and the conclusions of the study form a foundation for further in-depth studies to create a stronger, more comprehensive energy strategy for Egypt to build on.