It offers free land and guarantee for power purchase.

Egypt is going all out to promote renewable energy and is striving to attract Indian investment.

Egyptian Minister for Electricity and Energy Hassan Younes, who visited a couple of wind energy facilities in and around Chennai on Wednesday, told The Hindu that his government was providing a host of concessions to private investors: land would be given free and there would be government guarantee for energy purchase. “At present, customs [duty] is 2 per cent. We are considering making it zero per cent for renewable energy equipment.”

Pointing out that the concessions were meant for wind and solar energy projects, Dr. Younes, who became the Minister in November 2001, said that in the past few years, a lot of work was done. The Renewable Energy Authority formulated the sops. For new projects, land was identified. “There would be no intervention with anybody.” Given its topography and climate, Egypt had enormous potential for tapping wind and solar energy.

Dr. Younes said: “Our plan is to keep 33 per cent to be built by the Renewable Energy Authority and 67 per cent by the private sector.”

Noting that the renewable energy sector covered solar, wind and hydro power, Dr. Younes, a Ph.D. in electrical power engineering, said that at present, the share of this sector in the overall power generation was 10.5 per cent. “Our target is to reach 20 per cent by 2020.”

As for wind and solar energy projects in Egypt, he said the present installed capacity was 450 MW. This would go up to 550 MW by April-May. The first solar thermal power plant in the region would be ready by the end of next year. Its capacity would be 140 MW. For wind energy projects, the government had short-listed 10 foreign companies, including an Indian firm.

Asked why Egypt was promoting renewable energy, he cited resource diversification, the exhaustible nature of oil and natural gas and the need for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as the reasons.

Dr. Younes, who met Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah and Minister of State for Power Bharatsinh Solanki in New Delhi early this week, said India and Egypt would shortly sign a memorandum of understanding to encourage cooperation in renewable energy. Dr. Abdullah agreed to visit Egypt in February, and the proposed agreement was expected to be signed at that time.

In conventional sources of energy too, foreign companies were welcome to invest in generation and distribution, he said. Though the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company is owned by the state, his country has an independent power regulator.

On Wednesday, Dr. Younes, accompanied by Egypt’s Ambassador to India Mohamed Higazy, visited the Centre for Wind Energy Technology at Pallikkaranai and the facilities of the wind energy technology firm Vestas India at Sholinganallur and the Sanmar Engineering Group at Karapakkam. Sanmar Engineering Group has invested in the chemical industry in Egypt.

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