Abu Dhabi-based IHC harnesses solar energy to power efficient agricultural production in Egypt

EGYPT – International Holding Company (IHC), one of UAE’s leading diversified businesses, has invested AED 1.5 million (US$408,000) in construction of a pioneering solar-powered irrigation system in Egypt, to drive increased energy-efficient agricultural production.

The Abu Dhabi-based conglomerate is undertaking the investment through its subsidiary, Al Hashemeya Company for Land Reclamation and Cultivation, reports Africa Business Communities.

The pilot project will feature six wells spread over 500 acres, using photovoltaic system to help pump water onto 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) of farmland in the Wadi Al-Natroun region of northern Egypt.

The initiative, which is designed to be replicated across the country, aims to increase production of fruit and vegetables for export, create skilled jobs in a modernized agriculture sector, and optimise energy and water resources.

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“Solar is a reliable and cost-effective source of energy in this environment, and its deployment for irrigation is increasing crop yields and enhancing competitiveness.”

Mamoon Othman – Chief Executive Officer of IHC Food

“IHC’s project in Egypt is demonstrating what can be achieved across the country and the wider region to rapidly advance the agriculture sector, which is key to increasing exports.

“Solar is a reliable and cost-effective source of energy in this environment, and its deployment for irrigation is increasing crop yields and enhancing competitiveness. We see a bright future for the sector if this project can be replicated widely,” Mamoon Othman, Chief Executive Officer of IHC Food, said.

Al Hashemeya is aiming to operate more than 80 wells over the next five years with an AED 20 million (US$5.4m) investment.

The system will steadily increase solar energy generation capacity to 17 MW to provide 75% of the farm’s total energy needs at less than half the cost of electricity from the national grid.

It is estimated that solar power will be available for 5 to 6 hours in the winter season and between 8 and 10 hours in the summer.

The project comes at a time that the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group has partnered with ALEXBANK, an Egyptian private bank to provide financing to farmers to enable them transition to use of sustainable irrigation systems.

Under the partnership, the financial institutions will design new funding packages to enable farmers to purchase and install solar powered irrigation pumps.

This targets farmers who may lack direct access to electricity grid and aims to reduce their reliance on diesel-powered generators by switching to clean energy options which have reduced impact on the environment.

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Through the partnership, IFC and ALEXBANK estimates that using solar powered pumps could save farmers up to 14 billion Egyptian pounds (US$875 million) annually in diesel fuel costs, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

An estimated one million diesel-powered pumps across Egypt could potentially be replaced by solar.

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