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Egypt: Environmentalists tout small-scale solutions to reduce electricity cuts

Published at: Aug 28, 2012
source: Egypt Independant

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This summer Egypt continues to suffer from hours-long electricity outages on a near daily basis, which the government attributes to increased electricity demand because of the heat. A massive blackout earlier this month stopped two of three subway lines and delayed the opening of trading on the stock exchange.

Egypt’s Energy supply isn’t catching up with the demand, as the country is not only short on alternative energy-saving options but also faces a staggering culture of consumption. Energy prices are subsidized by the government, which is why Energy is so cheap in Egypt. Hence, people tend to use energy inefficiently and don’t seem to have the consciousness of looking after how much energy is used on a daily basis.

Short-term solutions from the demand as well as the supply side must be made quickly. Egypt needs more power stations and updates in existing stations haven’t been made for far too long. Small changes in usage of air conditioners and lights in private households as well as public buildings, like universities and hospitals, can help reduce overall energy consumption. Furthermore, education and more awareness campaigns are needed to change the prevailing consumption patterns.

Even though Egypt already has two large-scale solar power projects under way, as for now, the country isn’t in a position to attract and develop the large-scale investments needed for big wind power and solar projects. Instead, environmentalists say, the country needs to place more importance on developing small-scale initiatives with renewable technologies that are now mainly funded by the private sector and banks, and consequently make in-house energy consumption its priority. For this purpose, Egypt’s government must provide the necessary market mechanisms to push private and public investments and create policies to encourage innovations which can lead to tremendous potential in the country’s energy sector.

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