Solar Energy Alternative and their Potential in the Arab World

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1 Short Paper Series Short paper #2 Solar Energy Alternative and their Potential in the Arab World - August Written and Researched by: Taha Roushdy Edited by: Ahmed Zahran - 1 -

2 The aim of the short paper series production by TOC is to provide concise and relevant info about the international and regional carbon market & renewable energy sector. The paper should help familiarize the energy sector activities within EK Holding with the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) and with renewable energy potential in Egypt and the Arab region. Your comments/ feedback are welcome

3 Table of Contents I. PREAMBLE: RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE ARAB REGION... 4 II. INTRODUCTION:...5 III. TYPES OF SOLAR THERMAL ELECTRIC SYSTEMS POWER TOWER CENTRAL RECEIVER SYSTEMS TROUGH SYSTEM... 7 DISH-ENGINE SYSTEMS... 8 IV. SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS... 9 V. ECONOMICS OF SOLAR ENERGY & POTENTIAL WITHIN THE ARAB REGION SOLAR ECONOMICS ARAB SOLAR POTENTIAL VI. FUTURE SOLAR ENERGY PROJECTS IN EGYPT & THE REGION SOLAR PROJECTS IN EGYPT SOLAR PROJECT IN ALGERIA

4 I. Preamble: Renewable Energy in the Arab Region Traditionally the Arab World is divided into two categories of countries, the first group classified as rich with natural resources (oil) and poor in local trained labour and the second as poor in natural resources and rich in labour. However, with the currently soaring oil prices, and the increase in demand on energy resources that is directly related to the GDP growth and the increase in the rate of population growth the Arab World (notably the poorer countries) is in dire need to determine new sources of energy beside the increasingly expensive oil. The traditional oil poor countries seem to posses a new source of energy that could adjust the unbalanced situation between the two categories into their favor. Many of the poorer Arab countries are rich in both wind and solar energy potential, with some countries possessing some of the best locations worldwide. With most of the African Arab countries lying within the solar belt (region with the higher solar potential per Km 2 ), it is expected that in the near future those countries will be capable of providing their peoples and neighbouring countries with a sustained and relatively cheap source of energy. The available technology however is still not sufficient to achieve the best economics for the use of solar energy and it is expected that within the coming few years new developments will make it more economically feasible for those countries to make use of their solar potential in a rewarding manner. Wind energy is currently more economically feasible than solar energy due to the previously mentioned technology and investment constraints, however, after the wind energy potential is satisfied in the region it will be important to start capitalizing on the abundant solar potential and this will not be achievable without feasible technological and economic plans. Regardless of the abundance of the renewable energy resources in the Arab World, there still is a very difficult challenge which lies within the technological capacity of the Arab countries. Those countries are still not capable of localizing and developing relevant technologies to make use of this very important resource. Localising the needed technology is not only strategically important but it is also important to minimise the implementation costs and thus making the era of solar energy closer. We believe that the private sector could play the major role in localising the needed technologies starts through cementing partnerships with technology providers on the premises that technology transfer is guaranteed to the Arab countries in exchange for preferential economic benefits and investment incentives, after which, a clear plan of adopting those technologies should be in place. Similar approaches proved to be successful in areas like telecommunications and gas distribution, and thus we believe that the privates sector should lead the way in preparing the stage for making use of renewable energy resources. Through this paper, Taha provides a quick survey of the currently available technologies that were designed or used to capture solar energy. Afterwards, he provides a review of the major attempts within the Arab region to make use of those technologies. Hope you find it a fruitful read. Ahmed Zahran - 4 -

5 II. Introduction: With a depleting limited supply of oil, and the rapidly increasing problems with pollution and climate change due to combustion of fossil fuels, the need for a clean, sustainable energy source is becoming more and more critical everyday. One of the most promising renewable energy sources today is solar energy. An abundant amount of solar energy reaches the Earth s surface everyday; the challenge we face is in harnessing this energy and converting into more useful means such as electrical power. While the technology for solar energy is continuously developing, and new ideas are evolving, the currently dominant ways for gathering and converting solar energy: the solar thermal electric systems and photovoltaic, are not yet economically competitive. Solar thermal electric systems work by redirecting the solar energy and focusing it to heat up a fluid, which is then used to drive turbines and generate electricity. On the other hand the photovoltaic (solar cells) directly convert light energy into electricity through their light sensitive materials. This short paper briefly exposes the different types of solar thermal electric systems and solar cells, as well as, the potential for solar energy in Egypt and the Arab world, and some of the main solar project currently in progress in the region

6 III. Types of Solar Thermal Electric Systems 1. Power Tower Central Receiver Systems A fields of mirrors or heliostats, devices that track the sun s movement throughout the day, are used to redirect the sun s energy onto a specific central receiver, the power tower. The energy is absorbed into a high-temperature working fluid, such as liquid sodium or a molten salt mixture. The high thermal capacity of the working fluid, which can be pumped and stored at temperatures ranging from C, allows for the energy to be stored and drawn off of for several hours. The fluid is then used to vaporize and superheat steam before the turubo generator in a steam Rankine cycle to generate electricity. Figure 1: Solar Power Tower. Source: SMAKSol Elektrama:

7 2. Trough System Trough concentrators redirect sunlight using a conjoined line of parabolic mirrors onto an absorber tube running along the focal line of the trough as shown in Figure 2 below. A fluid, typically water or oil, being pumped through the receiver tube is heated to temperatures between 100 and 400 C. The heated fluid is used to generate electricity though the conventional Rankine cycle. Figure 3 shows parabolic trough units placed in series and in parallel to increase operating temperatures and achiever greater energy flows. Figure 2: Solar Trough system. Source: Patriot_Solar_Troughs.htm Figure 3: Series and parallel solar trough s system. Source: Power plants using a trough system have generating capacities ranging from 10 MWe to a maximum of 200 MWe. However, the land area required to have large electric capacities is substantial. For example, in a desert region where 2,500 kwh/m 2 of solar energy is available annually, to produce 100 MWe in a 12% solar to electric efficiency power plant, a collector surface area of about 500,000 m 2 would be required 1. Molten salts or heat transfer salts are typically used to store the energy for later use. Other methods for storing the energy such as compressed air, pumped hydro, or magnetic energy storage, could also be used

8 3. Dish-Engine Systems Dish-engine systems use a parabolic dish made of mirrors to redirect the sun light onto a heat engine generator mounted at the focal point (Figure 4). Direct solar energy is concentrated by a factor of 600 to 3,000 at the focal point, yielding temperatures ranging from 600 to 1,500 C; much higher than the temperatures reached by either troughs or solar towers 1. Figure 4: Source: SMAKSol Elektrama Figure 5: Source: wiki/solar_energy Dish engine systems are well suited for remote area application. Their production rate ranges from 5 to 50 kwe, and they can be arranged and operated in large intergraded systems, much like wind energy farms are 1 (Figure 5). This system does however have several engineering challenges that hinder it from being commercialized. One of such challenges is how to remove the thermal energy from the absorber to the power plant. Another is that while installation capital is as high as other solar energy alternative, the operating lifetimes needed for reliable power generation have not yet be determined

9 IV. Solar Photovoltaic Systems Photovoltaic systems make use of semiconductors photoelectric effect to directly convert solar energy into electricity. Photovoltaic are currently the world s fastest growing energy technology, with production doubling every two years since Figure 6: A single solar cell. Source: Solar cell efficiencies of up to 40.7% have been achieved in lab testing conditions, and research is being done to produce 60% efficiency at competitively low production cost; however, efficiency of commercial photovoltaic system is still low, typically range from 5 to 19% 3. Figure 7: Solar cell panels. Source:

10 V. Economics of Solar Energy & Potential within the Arab Region 1. Solar Economics While research and production in solar energy technology is increasing and many predict it to be relatively cheap in the near future, it is currently inefficient and not economically competitive with oil. For example, under the best conditions the lowest price for electricity produced in 2002 by a MWe central receiver system was about 8 /kwh, and the capital investment for such a facility ranges from 3,000 4,000 USD/kW 1. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that by 2020 electricity produced from power towers would cost 5.47 /kwh 2. Similarly, the cost of photovoltaic electricity ranges from 60 /kwh in central Europe to about 30 /kwh in regions of high solar irradiation Arab Solar Potential Egypt, and the Arab region by large, are prime locations for solar energy production. The Sahara receives some 2,400 hours/year of sunshine, about 1.5 times the 1,000 hours/year that Europe receives 4. According to the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), Egypt is one of the Sun Belt countries receiving between 1970 kwh/m 2 /year in the North to 2600 kwh/m 2 /year in the South. Figure 9 is a solar irradiation map in kwh/m 2 /day. The darker the color the greater the irradiation, increasing by 1 kwh/m 2 /day, starting from 0-1 in the white regions to 6+ in the dark red regions in Northern Africa

11 Figure 8: Solar irradiation map of the globe in kwh/m 2 /day. The map show the North Africa region to be among the highest in the world. Source:

12 Figure 9: Solar irradiation map of North Africa, showing Upper Egypt and Northern Sudan to have the highest irradiation levels at 6.5 and 6.6 kwh/m 2 /day. Source: global-solar-power.html

13 VI. Future Solar Energy Projects in Egypt & the Region 1. Solar Projects in Egypt NREA singed an EPC contract with Iberdrola in 2007 to make a 140 MW combined thermal solar and gas power plant in Kuraymat located about 90 km south of Cairo to be commissioned in October NREA also signed an EPC contract and a two years operation and maintenance contract with Orascom Construction for the project 5. Below is the summary of technical parameters of the baseline design. Summary of Technical Parameters of Baseline Design Capacity of Solar portion (MWe) 20 Capacity of gas turbine (MWe) 79 Capacity of steam turbine (MWe) 76.5 Net electric energy (GWhe/a) 852 Solar electric energy (GWhe/a) 33 Solar share(%) 4% Fuel saving due to the solar portion (T.O.E / a) CO 2 reduction (T / a) Source: New and Renewable Energy Authority. This project is funded by a USD 49.8 million grant from the GEF, and is one of three similar projects to be implemented in Algeria and Morocco aimed at transferring the technology and know-how of such projects, increasing local industrial capacity, and creating new job opportunities 5. Another solar project commissioned by a pharmaceutical company in cooperation with the African Development Fund, uses a trough system over a 1,900 square meters area to generate 1.3 tons/hour of saturated steam at 175 C, 8 bar. About 70% of the system in manufactured locally. The expected fuel saving rate is 1,120 tons/year, resulting in the decrease of CO 2 emission by 3,570 tons/year

14 2. Solar Project in Algeria A report by the Agency for the Sustainable Development of the Mediterranean (EcoMed) it is stated that, the world consumption of energy is 18,000 TWh, of which 3,200 TWh for the EU and 600 TWh for the Middle East and North Africa, while Algeria s potential alone reaches 170,000 TWh. Algeria launched a new project named, the New Energy Algeria (NEAL) project, where it aims to produce 6,000 MW through Concentrated Solar Power, and export it to Europe. The EU could include the imported solar power in reaching the target of having 20% of their energy produced by renewable energy sources by Those 2 projects still do not satisfy the potential of the region in terms of capitalizing on the solar energy potential. Moreover, the Arab region is still being treated as an area of natural resource potential rather than an area where the know how for the use of that resourse is being produced and developed. 1 Tester, Drake, Driscoll, Golay, and Peters. Sustainable Energy: choosing among options. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, Assessment of Parabolic Trough and Power Tower Solar Technology Cost and Performance Forecasts. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Oct Aug < 3 Solar Cell. Wikipedia, 8 Aug < Quick%20Look%20MLA%20Citation%20Guide.htm>. 4 Canino, Andrea. Mediterranean 2015: Prerequisites and opportunities to ensure sustainable economic development in the Southern Mediterranean region. Economic Cooperation Council and EcoMed. July Solar Thermal Energy. New and Renewable Energy Authority. 5 Aug <

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