News, Outdoor

Egypt’s streetlights go solar

Solar streetlights being installed in the Egyptian city of Ismailia / Photo: Ismailia Governorate

The Egyptian government is kitting out entire cities and villages with solar LED streetlights, as part of its efforts to ease the load on the electricity network and prevent power outages.

The transition began in 2013 with the installation of solar streetlights throughout Cairo’s major districts, including Sadat City and Tahrir Square, before extending to the seaport city of Suez in 2014, to power up the five-mile Misr-Iran Road.

By early 2015, numerous streets in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el Sheikh, nine miles in length, had been fitted with solar LED lighting by the state-owned Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), with an investment of around $2.1 million. Today, similar work is taking place in Alexandria, New Valley, Ismailia, and Kom Ombo in Aswan.

Minister of electricity Dr Mohamed Shaker recently signed a $157 million-contract with the AOI to replace nearly four million streetlights across the country with solar LED versions.

In a feasibility study, the AOI found that replacing a 400W lamppost with a 150W lamp saves around $7.50 per month, while replacing a 200W bulb with a 100W one saves around $4.85 per month.

As a result, the company expects to save $197 million in the first year and to reduce electricity consumption by 600MW, enabling the investment to pay for itself in just 17 months.

Solar LED streetlights will also ease demand on the electricity network and help prevent blackouts, especially in the peak summer months.

The New Urban Communities Authority, which falls under the Ministry of Housing, Utilities & Urban Development (MoH) and oversees the development of 22 new cities, has been tasked with implementing energy-efficiency schemes throughout these cities.

‘We have invited bids for several tenders in recent months and will be announcing more as we start new projects,’ said Dr Hend Farouh, sustainable architecture and urban development expert at the MoH’s Housing & Building Research Center. The tenders were open to both local and foreign firms, she added, although the majority of bidders so far are based in the Middle East.

Egypt has more than 10 million streetlights, which use up around six per cent of the country’s electricity, with a load of around 1,600MW, according to MoH. These typically use sodium, mercury vapour, and incandescent lamps. Replacing all of these lights is estimated to cost nearly $725 million.

The cost has prompted the Ministry of Electricity to consider other ways to make public lighting more efficient – for example, installing devices that can increase the lamps’ lighting capacity; adopting rotation systems for lighting major roads and squares; and where possible, replacing the lamps only and keeping the columns.