A consortium of ten banks—including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank—has invested $653 million to mobilize and finance 13 of the 32 solar plant projects at the Benban Solar Park in Egypt.
A 37-square kilometer plot near the southern city of Aswan has been allocated by the Egyptian government to New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) for the park.
Electricity generation in the Arab republic is currently dominated by thermal power stations. The photovoltaic solar plants will help serve increasing demand from a population of more than 95 million people by providing clean energy to drive growth.
The Benban Solar Park is a part of Egypt’s Nubian Suns Feed-in-Tariff program, a major initiative that influences private sector capital and expertise to support its goal of generating 20% electricity from renewable resources by 2022. The project is expected to provide cost-effective and eco-friendly power to over 350,000 residents in the country. According to a report by NREA, with an estimated total cost of $3.5 billion to $4 billion, Benban will be the world’s largest photovoltaic park.
“Egypt’s reforms in its energy sector opened the door to private sector investments,” said Philippe Le Houérou, the CEO of IFC in a press release. “For the Benban Solar Park project, those reforms and our innovative financial tools have helped attract a number of investors and financiers into the country for the first time. This will create jobs for many Egyptians and provide clean and reliable energy for people across the country.”
Along with the IFC, the nine other banks - Africa Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Arab Bank of Bahrain, CDC of the United Kingdom, Europe Arab Bank, Finance in Motion, FinnFund, ICBC and OeEB of Austria - will finance six groups of private power companies, including Shapoorji Energy, a subsidiary of Shapoorji Paloonji Group and ACCIONA Energía, to build and operate the 13 plants.