The power of the Egyptian sun made it possible for SEKEM to recently replace the power of a diesel generator on SEKEMs farm in the oasis Wahat Al Bahareya with solar energy. SEKEM has just completed the installation of a photovoltaic system that powers a water pump that in turn irrigates an area of 60 feddans (about 25 acres) of date palms. On 31 March, the solar system was first put into operation and the plant inaugurated at a formal event at the oasis. SEKEM had received technical support during construction not only from the German company “Aschoff Solar” and its local partner “E–Green”, but also from its own ranks: students of Faculty of Engineering at the University of Heliopolis and students of the SEKEM Vocational Training Centre flocked to apply their knowledge productively during the installation of the site. Eventually, more than 60 people attended the dedication ceremony. Everyone was particularly impressed by the silence that set in when the diesel generator powering the pump until then was finally turned off.
In 2013 a first photovoltaic system had been installed with the support of the DEG (German Society for Development) on the roof of the Heliopolis University. Since then the solar system has not only provided a part of the institution’s buildings with electricity, but also continues to serve the students and outside partner organizations with an opportunity for hands-on research. Inspired by the DEG project and the rising diesel prices, a 60 kWp photovoltaic system that drives a 37 kW water pump was then planned to be erected at SEKEMs farm in Wahat. “The establishment of photovoltaic systems requires substantial investments, over € 100,000 in the case of Wahat”, Dalia Abdou, one of the responsible project engineers, explains. “Given the current diesel prices, the system will be profitable for SEKEM after ten years”. The Egyptian government has recently decided to promote investments in solar systems through targeted support instruments. So far, solar power plants in Egypt are being constructed mainly in the agricultural sector. SEKEM is not only one of the pioneers in the country, but now also runs the largest solar-powered pump in Egypt. SEKEM considers sustainable energy as fundamental to the future of the country and is confident that it can install another photovoltaic system on the Wahat farm shortly.