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Windmill Egypt
For countries to undertake the transition to renewable energy, one-off investments are never enough. Technical assistance contributes to the sustainability of infrastructure and the development of reliable renewable energy. In Egypt, the Africa Renewable Energy (ARE) Scale Up program, supported by the European Commission and AFD, finances capacity building and the use of new technologies to promote the integration of renewable energy into the energy mix.

Sun and wind: Egypt is a land of opportunity for the development of renewable energy. "The country installed the first wind power plants more than twenty years ago," said Jérôme Gastaud, project team manager in the Energy Division of Agence Française de Développement (AFD). “But some of these facilities are now aging and there is little training in new and emerging technologies.” As part of the European Union's ARE Scale Up Facility, AFD has increased its support to the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) since 2019. 

See also: ARE Scale Up, a European Commission, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and AFD project

This governmental institution is responsible for promoting and developing renewable energy projects in Egypt, especially those related to solar and wind energy. "Less visible than building infrastructure, technical assistance makes a significant contribution to the development of renewable energy. It focuses, for example, on better regulation and building an institutional framework. It also has a direct impact on capacity building for energy stakeholders in our partner countries," explained Silvia Puddu, head of the Africa Renewable Energy Scale Up (ARE Scale Up) program at AFD. Launched in 2017 by the European Union and AFD, this €16 million program aims to assist African countries in their energy transition and mobilize financing to develop renewable energy.

Imagining a greener energy future

In Egypt, this technical assistance is provided directly to NREA in the form of training in new technologies that can be integrated into grids and in the maintenance of existing wind power installations.  "We are also working on proposing studies to model and plan energy production over the long term," added Jérôme Gastaud, “or even assisting NREA in its strategy relating to governance and organization.”

In the field, team training and awareness raising are important. As Dr. Hala Ramadan, Director of NREA's Research Department, pointed out: "Egypt needs support to envision its energy future. In this regard, our managers must also be trained in the new technologies and production tools of tomorrow. ” Currently, 16 NREA employees are learning about smart grids and other innovative equipment to facilitate the integration of renewable energy into the country's energy mix.

Encouraging preventive maintenance

The maintenance of existing installations is the other important aspect of AFD's technical assistance. "This is ensured by the presence of international experts who provide their skills to the Egyptian teams and train them to maximize the operation of the Zafarana site's power plants,” explained Jérôme Gastaud. This six-month assistance includes an assessment of current maintenance to identify problems, provide training, set up a field information system, and conduct studies. ” This support is essential given the dilapidated state of the facilities, which, due to a lack of funding, have received little maintenance since they were built. 

See also: “ARE Scale Up facilitates energy transition in Africa

"The profitability of infrastructures would usually finance their maintenance,” noted Jérôme Gastaud. The aim is for curative maintenance to give way to preventive maintenance. It is not just a question of repairing something when it breaks, but of anticipating breakdowns, having workshops stocked with tools and parts, and staff trained in maintenance. ” At the same time, NREA's financial situation was also put on a more solid footing as part of a public policy loan. 

This recognized assistance is already bearing fruit. "It is very useful and tangible for improving our daily working methods, saving time, modeling future options that we can eventually integrate into our procedures,” said Hala Ramadan. The Egyptian example can probably be replicated in other energy agencies or electricity operators. This is already the case in Senegal and Tunisia, where technical assistance projects, one for developing the network code and the other for developing smart grids, are also being implemented by AFD through the ARE Scale Up program.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of AFD and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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