SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) – Egypt, the host of this year’s UN climate talks, is finalizing a series of deals to green its energy and transportation systems, which still rely heavily on polluting fossil fuels.
The agreements include a $10 billion investment to replace “inefficient thermal power plants” with clean energy like wind or solar, funded by institutions including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank, HSBC and CitiBank.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said the two countries would build a large green hydrogen plant in Egypt’s Ain el-Sokhna on the Red Sea, which would use renewable energy to produce hydrogen.
The project will have a capacity of 100 megawatts of green hydrogen when completed, officials said. They added that the project, along with others on food and transport, is part of Egypt’s national Nexus of Water, Food and Energy program, which was launched in July. The program aims to mobilize climate finance and investment to support the country’s clean energy transition.
Norwegian renewable energy company Scatec will take the lead in developing the hydrogen project. The company is already present in Egypt, having developed the Benban solar farm, one of the largest in the world, in the province of Aswan in Upper Egypt.
Last week Germany announced it had also signed a tentative deal with Egypt to buy more natural gas and help the North African nation develop hydrogen production facilities.
According to the International Energy Agency, Egypt currently gets more than 90% of its electricity from natural gas and oil. Scientists say that the use of such fossil fuels must be replaced with renewable energy sources as soon as possible around the world to combat climate change.
“The energy matrix of Egypt, but also of many other countries, is changing radically in terms of the integration of renewable energies, electrification, transport,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UN development program.
In recent years, Egypt has intensified efforts to use alternative renewable energies and break free from fossil fuel dependency. The El-Sissi government aims to generate 42% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2035, according to the country’s New and Renewable Energy Authority.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced this week that its subsidiary DB International Operations has won a contract to operate and maintain Egypt’s new high-speed rail network.
The deal, which was signed on the sidelines of the two-week climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, is worth over a billion euros (dollars) and will initially run for 15 years.
With Egypt’s population expected to grow from 104 to 160 million by 2050, the country hopes high-speed rail will provide a cleaner and safer alternative to its often-congested roads.
The first line will connect Alexandria, Cairo and a new administrative capital from 2025. Two more lines connecting Abu Simbel, Luxor and Hurghada on the Red Sea will be added later, connecting 90% of Egypt’s population to the network.
Associated Press writer Frank Jordans contributed from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
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