Building New Power After Mubarak

on September 29, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Though much has changed in Egypt over the last few months, some things remains the same. In the energy sector, a proposal from the state-owned Egyptian utility for new power plants is still moving forward in the World Bank.

The Egyptian Electricity Holdings Company (EEHC) and the Egyptian Natural Gas Company (GASCO) have requested from the World Bank financing for a third 750 MW combined cycle gas power plant at the existing Giza North Power Plant that already has two large 750 MW electrical generation units. The proposed construction will also include a 105 kilometer gas pipeline that will connect to the plant for steady supply and two single circuit 500 kV overhead transmission lines, each approximately 25 kilometers in length, that will be upgraded from its current 220 kV design.

The two initial units were also financed by the World Bank, back in June 2010, with a $600 million loan. At the time, Vladislav Vucetic, the World Bank’s Task Team Leader said the combined cycle gas plant design was chosen for its ability to provide “reliable” power to the country’s “growing economy” while also emitting fewer fossil fuels than other generation types.

Vucetic, now lead energy specialist for the Middle East region, told Breaking Energy that he does not expect political upheaval in the Middle East to affect the proposed infrastructure and power plant construction, even though the utility, Egyptian Electricity Holdings Company, is state-owned and will be responsible for a portion of the financing as it was in the construction of the initial two units.

Giza is also the site of some of Egypt’s most ancient treasures, including the three largest pyramids and the Sphinx. Surrounded by farm land, the 295,000 square meter site was chosen, according to an initial environmental impact assessment report released September 19, because of its proximity to water (The Nile), gas pipelines and national electricity transmission infrastructure.

Vucetic said building a unit on an existing site is significantly easier than creating a new plant site and has a reduced environmental impact. According to the report, special care will be taken to protect nearby graveyards, buildings and all historic and religious structures.

Photo Caption: A local boy watches as tourists photograph themselves at the Sphinx and the great Pyramid of Cheops on May 28, 2011 in Giza, Egypt.