Creating new perspectives since 2009

Interim authorities continue Morsi's energy policies, but claim credit

February 5, 2014 at 2:12 am

Egypt’s interim government continues to take over projects designed by Dr Hisham Qandil’s government under elected President Mohammed Morsi and claim them to be its own.

For example, the interim Electricity Minister and the Industry Minister have both recently announced that Egypt is taking steps to switch to coal for generating electricity.

Egypt’s interim Minister of Electricity and Energy Ahmad Imam told Anadolu news agency on Sunday that, “the Energy Supreme Committee in the Ministers Council has commissioned the Ministry of Environment and stakeholders to study the environmental impact of using coal in power plants and cement factories.”

The Minister said that Egypt’s Electricity Holding Company has identified three sites to establish the first electricity plants using coal, including Mosa Springs in the northeast of Egypt, West Doumiat in the north and Safaga in the east.

However, Mahmoud Ahmed Shahotah, the Undersecretary for Industry and Energy Committee, had already announced back on 15 April that the first station to generate electricity using coal would be established in Safaga, or the Red Sea governorate, and that it would produce 5,000 megawatts.

Thus it was Prime Minister Qandil’s government and the Freedom and Justice Party dominated parliament that initiated this project, and developed it as well.

On 21 May a seminar was organized by a cement factory based in Qima in collaboration with the University of Janoub El-Wadi to assess the environmental impact of using coal fuel instead of diesel. The seminar had recommended using coal to generate power and the government agreed with the recommendation.

One month later, Dr Tarek Moustafa Chairman of the Industry and Energy Committee announced on 17 June that the government had approved a proposal by representatives of the Freedom and Justice Party recommending private companies to import coal to compensate for energy insufficiency. The cement plants turned to using coal instead of natural gas to provide sufficient energy for the operation of electricity plants.

At the time, Dr Mustafa said that, “it has been agreed on the need to use coal to generate power for the energy-intensive industries as a whole, not cement only,” pointing out that “the Ministries of Industry, Petroleum and Environment has designed rules to import coal and planned to submit them during the Supreme Council of Energy’s meeting, which was expected to take place within two weeks to issue a special resolution for importing coal as a substitute for gas in power generation.” He added that, a platform in Dakhilah port had been prepared to receive six million tons of coal.

Dr. Moustafa also explained that a “study to establish several ports to import coal, mainly in Ain Sukhna and Alhmorin on the Red Sea, is being conducted in parallel with designing plans to prepare the railways to transport the coal from the ports to the factories.”

One week before the coup on 25 June, Mahmoud Shahoutah, a member of the Industrial Production and Energy Committee in the Shura Council, said in a report that the committee had recommended using coal as a source of energy and thus suggested restructuring the Ministry of Industry and increasing the number of labourers to accommodate the new plans.

Shahoutah added that a law had been created to import coal for cement factories, along with the construction of a coal plant in Safaga to generate 5000 megawatts, also stressing the need to study the technical and financial reasons for why renewable energy projects had failed.

He pointed out that electrical interconnection projects with the Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Libya would save 7000 megawatts while the delivery of natural gas to 14 million homes would provide the state with a billion and a half pounds of support, as well as separating distribution from production and combating the smuggling of diesel.