According to the Wind Power Works campaign lead by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), average wind speeds in the area are 9 m/s. The Zafarana windfarm consists of a series of linked windfarms, which saw construction starting in 2001. To date, the total installed capacity has reached 360 MW.
The wind turbines have been produced by Danish Vestas, German Nordex and Spanish Gamesa. The installation has been carried out under the banner of the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Agency (NREA).
The most recent development is a 240 MW phase being constructed with the support of the Danish and Japanese government aid agencies. Half of this is due for commissioning by the end of 2009. Eventually the total capacity at Zafarana could reach 545 MW.
The Zafarana project has contributed to technology transfer in terms of providing operational experience in wind power plant operation, as well as local assembly of the wind turbines, Wind Power Works says.
Based on this experience the Egyptian government is opening up a larger area of 656 km2 at El-Zayt, south of Zafarana. With a potential for 3000 MW of wind power capacity, this will involve private sector investment for the first time. Wind speeds here can reach an average of 11 m/s.
The Egyptian government's target is that 20% of the country's electricity should come from renewable sources by 2020. Of this more than half – about 12% - is expected to be produced by wind power. To achieve this target the NREA estimates that a total of 7200 MW of grid-connected windfarms will be required.