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El Gouna officials signed an agreement to implement a plan to make the city carbon neutral.
27 Jan 2014

 El Gouna officials signed an agreement to implement a plan to make the city carbon neutral.

El Gouna goes Carbon Neutral.

Agreement signed with Egyptian and Italian officials  

Text: Georgina Cole 

On January 27th, 2014, the agreement to transform El Gouna into a carbon neutral city was signed at the Technische Universitaet Berlin (TUB) Campus El Gouna. The event was attended by Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Dr. Laila Iskandar, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou, Director General of the Italian Ministry of Environment Dr. Corrado Clini, Italian Ambassador to Egypt Maurizio Massari, Governor of the Red Sea Ahmed Abdallah, and Chairman of Orascom Development Holding Samih Sawiris. 

Sawiris noted that the occasion marked an issue dear to his heart, saying, “The goal to make El Gouna the first environmentally-friendly city in Egypt and Africa is consistent with the nature and character of the city and with the philosophy behind its establishment.” He went on to say, “The carbon neutral project will achieve a magnificent humanitarian mission, and those who support the project will be remembered for their great role.” 

Carbon neutrality involves offsetting carbon emissions with an equal amount of carbon credits. This is achieved by monitoring and managing energy use to reduce energy demand, switching to alternative sources, and investing in projects aimed at offsetting or preventing carbon emissions. El Gouna’s strategies for achieving carbon neutrality include biosequestration, the biological capture and storage of carbon dioxide through trees and plants. The El Gouna Farm plays an important role in this regard. Another strategy to manage emissions is to substitute petrol and diesel with low-carbon alternative fuels used for transportation, machinery, and pumps. 

The Red Sea governor, who oversees an area of 203,685 square kilometers, said the project is a step in the right direction toward protecting and enhancing the region’s environment, which in turn attracts foreign investors. Dr. Iskander congratulated the courage of those who have taken this initiative and lauded their partnership with other governments, saying that this agreement will help the Egyptian government achieve breakthroughs in the fields of environment and tourism, and that it will enhance Egypt's global image and open the door for additional carbon neutral tourism projects in the country. El Gouna is the first city to undertake this strategy, positioning itself to become one of the leading carbon neutral cities in the world.

Energy Engineering students at TUB have already carried out an analysis of financial issues, policy regulations, demand load, and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of a sustainable energy supply for El Gouna. Photovoltaic solar panels are currently being tested, and with meteorological stations now in place to record accurate climate data in El Gouna, studies can continue to find a reliable and renewable energy mix.

The Ministry of Electricity and Energy has set a goal of supplying 20 per cent of electric energy demand in Egypt through renewable energy resources by the year 2020. 1200 square kilometres of land has been allocated in the Red Sea mountains near Zafarana at Gabal El Zeit to expand the capacity of the wind farm to 3000 megawatts. El Gouna’s power station is supplied via the national grid, thereby receiving part of its supply from the wind turbines. Thomas Azzer, electro-mechanical vice president at Orascom, is following new ideas to reduce energy consumption for cooling and heating, including phase change materials (PCMs). These materials act like thermal batteries in the ceiling, storing and releasing heat or cold. 

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