Egypt: Green Star Hotels “Download” the Sun

At the end of November, participants of a workshop in Munich, Germany, debated Egypt’s attempt at making the most use of the sunlight available in the country. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria organised a one-day seminar, offering presentations on energy and renewable policy in the North-African country. 35 participants from solar thermal and solar PV system suppliers, consultancies and institutions used the opportunity to learn more about the important role of solar energy in Egypt and the 100,000 green hotel rooms programme. The figure shows the slogan “Download the Sun”, which had already been adopted in several event in 2013. 
Figure: GIZ
 
The hotel sector is the key private sector in Egypt, with 14 million international visitors each year, 225,000 available hotel rooms and another 208,000 rooms to be added soon. The Memorandum of Understanding from June 2013 saw the main target as equipping 100,000 hotel rooms with clean energy technologies over the next five years – either with solar thermal, photovoltaics or smart lighting systems. According to the presentation by Thomas Rolf, Programme Manager at the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ, in Cairo, 45 hotels have already installed or have had plans to set up solar water heating systems since the beginning of 2013. The following table shows the extension stages of the 100,000 hotel room programme as shown during the presentation of Khaled Gasser, Chairman of the Solar Energy Development Association (SEDA). Planned subsidies of EUR 15 million over 5 years could save the Egyptian economy EUR 53.5 million in energy subsidies over the next five years. 
 

 

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Total

No. of rooms

10,000

15,000

20,000

25,000

30,000

100,000

Project budget
[EUR million]

10

16.5

24.3

33.2

43.9

127.9

Subsidy
amount

1.5

2.25

3

3.75

4.5

15

Total savings
(subsidy)

0.5

2.5

6.8

15

28.7

53.5

Costs and revenues of hotel solar initiative
Source: Solar Energy Development Association (SEDA)
 
To support the implementation of energy-saving measures in the tourism sector, the GIZ - in cooperation with SEDA - started the Green Star Hotel Initiative. The programme is supported and promoted by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. Three major hotel chains - Orascom Hotels & Development, the Travco Group and TUI – initiated the programme, which has already resulted in 53 certified hotels. Solar water usage is one of 100 mandatory criteria to be confirmed during the certification process. Onsite inspections of solar water heating systems are obligatory. A hotel which supplies solar-heated water to 40% or more of its guest rooms achieves a rating of 1 in this subcategory. If 20% to 39% of the rooms use solar-heated water, the hotel achieves level 2. Hotels with solar-heated swimming pools gain level 4. 
 
When it comes to solar energy use in Egypt, the urgency of the matter is obvious. Egypt is the country with the highest energy consumption in North Africa. Over the past decade, energy demand increased by 70% and is expected to double over the next 10 years, according to the study Market Entry for SMEs to Egypt’s Renewable Energy Market, which was published in June 2013 by the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Cairo. The main reasons for the rapid rise in consumption are an economic growth of around 4% per year and a population growth of at least 1.5% annually. At the same time, Egypt is a net importer of oil and gas and spends 20% of its annual budget on subsidising energy (see an earlier news piece). The shortage in the public budget since the revolution has resulted in a lack of diesel over the last years, leading to strongly increasing energy prices. Especially hotels in the remote areas at the Red Sea depend on diesel generators and are looking for alternatives. Solar thermal is one of the most easily available options to reduce the diesel consumption in hotels. 
 
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