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Even with a Massive Solar Field, Gas is Still Egypt’s Preferred Choice

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons Egypt is one of the world’s best regions for solar. Some companies agree, having invested in projects such as the Benban solar park, one of the world’s largest, 650km (400 miles) south of Cairo. Egypt’s government has also tried to boost rooftop solar power by offering homeowners generous incentives. Yet even though Egypt will host this year’s international summit on climate change, its dirtier sources of energy continue to overshadow the solar sort. The IEA estimates that Egypt’s electricity consumption has risen almost threefold in the past two decades. Yet for most of that period until 2017 its solar-power capacity hardly went up, whereas there was a threefold jump in its use of natural gas, which it would far rather export now at high prices. Egypt’s government has found it hard to convince its citizens of the merits of installing their own solar power. In 2014 it introduced a “feed-in” tariff, promising to pay homeowners and companies for surplus solar power they produce. Yet eight years later only a paltry 749 rooftop solar units have been installed.