There is no doubt that the Arab world is one of the most consuming countries of fossil fuel energy in the world, and it is the most areas that rely on traditional pollutant sources to generate electricity.
The Arab world is divided into oil producing and importing countries. These countries are witnessing rapid population growth and increasing energy consumption, which puts pressure on the environment and increases the rate of global warming which leads to serious consequences.
Saudi Arabia ranks 20th among the top 30 emitters of carbon dioxide followed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Investment in the renewable energy sector in the Arab world remains marginal, despite the abundance of clean energy sources. This is due to the absence of knowledge base, lack of technology, absence of effective institutions and economic vision.
Many environmental and energy experts stressed that an abundance of clean energy could give developing countries a strategic advantage in the global economy of the twenty-first century if the right policies were adopted.
They said that the renewable energy sector provides 6.5 million jobs, which helps reduce unemployment, unlike investment in traditional sources, which are limited and vulnerable to depletion.
They pointed out that solar energy is one of the most promising technologies in the Arab world, compared to other countries in the world. The average up to the Arab countries is 5 kWh per square meter per day.
Fossil Fuel in Egypt
Fossil fuels consist of coal, oil, petroleum and natural gas products. Egypt was the first Arab country to produce oil. Currently, there are three large oil refineries on the northern coast of Egypt, namely Alex, Midor and Amira. There are two oil refineries in the Suez region, namely, Nasr and Suez, and in Upper Egypt there is a refinery Assiut.
Although fossil fuels are important in strengthening Egypt’s economy, they are still considered to be highly harmful to the environment. The climate change adaptation strategy for Egypt’s water sector, which was released in 2012, warned of severe economic losses due to climate change, which will reach to 20 billion pounds by 2030. According to the international reports, Egypt is one of the countries most affected by climate change.
So, the Egyptian government is trying to move gradually to renewable sources of energy that are considered environmentally friendly.
Dangerous charcoal manufacturing
Egypt is one of the most famous countries in the export of charcoal, resulting from the burning of tree wood inside “coal mcmora”. Its exports amount to millions of dollars a year. Experts warned against the use of “coal makmeer”, and their serious effects on human health.
“Coal Makmeer” are one of the most important sources of serious pollution that spread throughout the country, especially in the Delta. They are exceeding 5,000 mcmora, according to statistics, which leads to the spread of chest diseases in these provinces by 50%, with the destruction of agriculture.
Also, the workers, who depend on “coal mcmora” need to provide them with the modern technology needed to produce coal in a way that does not affect the environment or the health of citizens.
Egyptians against Coal
The «Egyptians against Coal» campaign was established recently to prevent the import of coal and to educate citizens about its serious harm.
According to the Egyptians against Coal campaign, coal dust contains toxic substances such as arsenic, mercury and fine particles that pollute the air. These substances cause diseases of the respiratory system, heart and nervous system.
Members of the campaign rejected the establishment of factories near houses. The campaign called on the Egyptian government to cancel the decision allowing the establishment of factories next to residential areas.
Islam Ali, a volunteer member of the Egyptians against Coal Campaign, said the campaign aims to educate citizens about the dangers of coal, prevent its import from abroad, and move factories that use coal away from residential areas.
Efforts of Egyptian government
Egyptian Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker announced the opening of the largest wind turbine assembly in the world in June 2018, at a cost of 12 billion pounds. The total number of turbines is 300 turbines with 3 projects, with an efficiency of 580 MW of wind power.
The minister said that the world is interested in renewable energies and the development of technologies used in the production of electricity, in conjunction with the increasing global attention to issues of climate change and high prices of fossil fuels, and its effects on human health and the environment.
Furthermore, Shaker pointed to the construction of the largest solar energy complex “Benban” in the world in one of the sites in the Western Desert in Egypt.
The deputy chairman of the Renewable Energy Authority, Ihab Ismail said that the volume of investments in the project “Benban” up to 2 billion dollars. The project also provides employment for more than 12,000 people.
He added that the project “Benban” is the largest solar plant complex in Africa, and aims to increase clean and productive energy. The project also helps reduce more than 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions to conserve the environment.
“The solar power plant project is one of the goals adopted by the 2035 Sustainable Energy Strategy by increasing the contribution of renewable energy to 42% by 2035. The project is scheduled for completion in October 2019,” Ismail said.
He explained that the “Benban solar complex” will produce enough electricity to run one million homes, and includes 32 power plants across 37 square kilometers, and will be able to generate 1,650 megawatts of electricity. Egypt will produce 20% of its electricity through renewable sources by 2022.
The World Bank Group (WBG) has announced that the solar power generation project in Benban, Aswan, has won the annual prize for the best projects in the world.
The World Bank contributes to Egypt’s energy support worth more than $ 1.1 billion, including wind power development of $ 219.7 million, the South Helwan project of $ 585.4 million, and the delivery of gas to homes worth $ 300 million. $ 653 Million Aswan Solar Power Project.
Solutions and initiatives
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism launched an initiative last January to encourage hotels to generate electricity from solar energy, using the roofs of hotels to install solar plants with photovoltaic technology. The JW Marriott Hotel in New Cairo is the first hotel to construct a solar cell power plant.
Randa Abou El Hassan, representative of the United Nations Development Program in Cairo, said that the photovoltaic project aims to support the widespread use of small solar cells that are installed on the roofs of residential and commercial buildings, public buildings, hotels and industrial facilities.
She noted that the photovoltaic cells project supports the implementation of the national strategy for sustainable development and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the commitments of the Paris Agreement.