Egypt, Saudi Arabia award contracts to link power grids

Egypt's Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker gives a speech at a contract signing ceremony of power grids cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in Cairo, Egypt, on Oct. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Sui Xiankai)
Egypt’s Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker gives a speech at a contract signing ceremony of power grids cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in Cairo, Egypt,  October 5, 2021. Xinhua/Sui Xiankai

Egypt and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday awarded contracts for linking the two countries’ power grids, reported the state-run MENA news agency.

The project, which will allow both countries to exchange up to three gigawatts of electric power at peak times, would cost around 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, the report said.

The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company and Saudi Electricity Company signed the awarding contracts in a ceremony attended by Egypt’s Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker and his Saudi counterpart Abdulaziz bin Salman.

Three international and local companies, including the Orascom Construction, Hitachi ABB Power Grid, China Energy Engineering Corporation Limited, and Xian Electric Engineering Company Limited, have signed consortium contracts for implementing the linkage project, the report added.

The Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy said in a statement that the project involves the linkage of the region’s biggest grids and will reinforce the stability of power supply between the two countries.

The first stage is scheduled to be operated in late 2024, with a capacity of 1.5 gigawatts, the statement added.

Saying the project is consistent with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Abdulaziz bin Salman reiterated that Saudi Arabia, with the largest electric network in the Arab region and the Middle East, is qualified to be a regional center for the exchange of electrical energy through carrying out linkage projects with other countries.

“Such projects will promote the regional market for electricity trade and will boost cooperation among the participants,” the Saudi minister said.

In light of the two countries’ ambitions to expand reliance on renewable energy, this linkage project will constitute “a safety valve” for their power grids to tackle the generally unstable nature of renewable energy, he said.

For his part, Shaker said that the project crowns the deep Saudi-Egyptian relations and will constitute a nucleus for Arab joint linkage.

The new project between the two largest electricity grids in the region will help stabilize and increase electricity flows, and generate economic revenues, he noted.

Regarding the cooperation with Chinese companies, Shaker said this isn’t the first time for Egypt to work with Chinese companies, hoping that the project will be delivered in time with competitive prices and excellent quality of products.

“We are happy about the cooperation with the Chinese side,” he said.

The power linkage project includes the establishment of three high-voltage substations, namely the Badr station in eastern Cairo, and the Sharq al-Madinha and Tabouk stations in Saudi Arabia, linked with 1,350-meter overhead transmission lines and 22-km marine cables in the al-Aqaba Gulf, the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy said.

The Orascom Construction and Hitachi ABB Power Grids will carry out the work in Egypt, while a separate consortium of Hitachi ABB and Saudi Services for Electro Mechanic Works (SSEM) will undertake the project in Saudi Arabia, Orascom said in a statement.

Using the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology, the project will provide power to over 20 million people, said the Egyptian company.