CAIRO: Economics Professor Abdel Rahman Taha, an investment expert, told The Cairo Post Sunday President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s Saturday speech regarding Thursday’s mass blackout was honest, but the leader failed to address the use of alternative and renewable energy in solving Egypt’s energy crisis, especially biodiesel.
“Sisi has revealed all the details behind electricity shortages and defined the needed investments to handle the crisis in his speech,” Taha said. “But, there was something missing in Sisi’s speech as he did not include biodiesel in his plan.”
Sisi addressed the nation in a televised speech Saturday over the mass blackout that hit Egypt Thursday. A wide-reaching power outage hit the country in the early morning, causing disruptions in Metro train service, forcing a number of television channels to stop broadcasting and shutting down at least six water treatment plants. Investigations are being conducted to identify the cause or causes of the blackout.
Sisi said Egypt needs $12 billion to overcome the electricity crisis within the coming five years.
But, in his comments to The Cairo Post, Taha lamented the fact Egypt’s energy legislation is focused only on solar and wind energy, neglecting biodiesel. Taha called for a wider discussion of the Renewable Energy Law. “We should motivate people to use biodiesel,” he said.
“Electricity is one of the State’s utilities suffering from problems not solved over the years,” Sisi said, noting that Egypt needs 130 billion EGP ($18.17 billion) immediately to face the crisis and $12 billion over five years to overcome it, as Egypt needs to provide 12,000 megawatts in this period.
“The president is trying to change Egyptians’ lifestyle from being dependant on the State to being partners in building the country,” Taha added.
Private sector investment in solar energy production is a key solution to the crisis, said Taha, saying there has been a delay in implementing solar projects due to a dispute over a tariff between the government and businessmen who want to achieve more than a 30 percent profit margin.
“The military will participate in solar energy projects with a profit margin ranging from 20 percent to 25 percent, and private sector profitability should not exceed this limit,” Taha said.
He proposed that government projects and facilities should shift to solar energy within a maximum period of 12 months and the government should allow the private sector a 3-year timeline to use solar energy.
“Public transport should run on biodiesel, which is available at lower costs than diesel… energy-intensive plants also have to run on biodiesel within four years,” he said.