Investing in geothermal energy for sustainability in Egypt

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Geothermal energy, a perfect example of sustainable energy, harnesses the natural heat stored within the Earth to generate power, providing a reliable and virtually inexhaustible energy source. This type of renewable energy comes with its own special package of advantages, but it’s also not entirely trouble-free. So how can Egypt make the best out of it?

What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy is defined as an eco-friendly and renewable energy source that harnesses the naturally occurring high temperatures within the Earth. By utilizing this heat, systems can generate steam, which, in turn, powers turbines connected to electricity generators.

It is typically obtained by drilling deep wells into the Earth’s crust to access hot water reservoirs characterized by steam emissions.

This energy source is considered sustainable and environmentally friendly due to its limited greenhouse gas emissions and minimal ecological impact compared to traditional fossil fuels.

Advantages of geothermal energy 

Geothermal energy offers numerous advantages as a sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources. Unlike solar and wind energy, which depend on weather conditions, geothermal energy relies on Earth’s constant and inexhaustible internal heat. This means you have a reliable power supply that doesn’t run out.

One of the key environmental advantages of geothermal energy is its minimal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike fossil fuels, geothermal energy does not involve the combustion of substances, mitigating air pollution and avoiding any negative impact on climate change.

Moreover, geothermal energy extends beyond electricity generation. It offers various potential applications. Geothermal heat pumps and district heating systems can provide efficient heating and cooling solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes.

Opportunities and challenges of geothermal energy in Egypt

When all is said and done, the most critical question stills remains: can Egypt truly benefit from geothermal energy?

The answer is in a report published in 2021 by Stellae Energy titled “Geothermal Energy in Egypt”. It highlighted Egypt’s great potential for geothermal energy production, emphasizing its suitability for viable geothermal energy projects.

The report mentioned that clean, environmentally sustainable renewable geothermal energy in Egypt would be possible thanks to modern, low and medium enthalpy Binary ORC power generation solutions.

Additionally, the proper geoscience tools are available in Egypt to help incrementally explore and de-risk the areas of potentially suitable heat energy sources before more expensive drilling is required.

These potential geothermal energy projects will increase electrification, reduce dependence on carbon-based power plants, alleviate energy poverty, and enhance sustainable energy sources in the country.

Meanwhile, aligning with geothermal energy, and expanding the electrical supply would support domestic industrialization in Egypt, allowing it to maximize its value within its borders.

The report’s findings confirm that geothermal energy can be valuable for Egypt’s sustainable and prosperous future and that Egypt is ready for such an energy development.

Despite geothermal energy’s promising potential, several limitations and challenges could impede its widespread adoption.

One significant constraint is the restricted accessibility of geothermal resources based on geographical location. The exploration and drilling processes require specialized expertise and equipment, making the initial investment substantial.

Notably, regulatory and permitting hurdles, including environmental regulations and community involvement, can hinder project development.

How can the state pave the way for geothermal energy?

Egypt has been a frontrunner in the region regarding harnessing wind and solar energy. However; there is growing interest in exploring emerging technologies such as green hydrogen to further expand its renewable energy.

Despite the limitations, geothermal energy holds promise as a sustainable and cleaner energy source with numerous advantages. Overcoming the current constraints and fully utilizing geothermal energy for a sustainable future will depend on continuous technological advancements, policy support, and increased investment.

It is noteworthy that Egypt started an initiative to equip the market with qualified graduates in the geothermal energy field to develop sustainable energy through a professional diploma. One of these initiatives began in May 2022  with the participation of 14 organizations, including the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), Suez Canal University, Ain Shams University, Cairo University, Aswan University, Giorinco Company, South Valley Company, Egyptian-Japanese University, Bologna University, Bunyan Company, Ecoforest, and Taylor, Daily News Egypt reported.

In line with Egypt’s commitment to developing geothermal energy, Mohamed El-Khayyat, Chairperson of the NREA, said that it is crucial to foster a skilled workforce in that field in Egypt. He added, “The main objective of the diploma is to meet the local market’s demand for qualified graduates in the field of geothermal energy investigation, system design, and project management with available technologies dedicated to the various applications of geothermal energy.”

El-Khayyat also explained that there is a plan to establish the first leading educational station in the field of geothermal energy in Egypt, in addition to integrated geothermal laboratories in the participating Egyptian higher education institutions.

Interestingly, geothermal energy has existed for quite some time now across the globe, and also in Egypt, but has generally received very little attention. But on the bright side, researchers and officials are starting to explore the untapped potential beneath our feet.

While it seems that currently Egypt does not have enough geothermal capacity, according to Enterprise, which is consistent with the slow global adoption of this technology, the good news is that situation is likely temporary. The future stands to be bright. This study, titled “Review of Geothermal Resources of Egypt 2015-2020” from Research Gate, explains that geothermal energy in Egypt has the potential to revolutionize sustainable development.

By addressing technological barriers, providing policy support, and increasing investments, Egypt can fully unlock the power of geothermal energy – this clean and renewable energy source that offers quite a promising future.

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