Finnish company exports solar energy know-how to Egypt

GreenEnergy Finland is helping Egypt increase the use of renewable energies. Support from Finnpartnership gave the company a head start.

GreenEnergy Finland Oy (GEF) was launched in 2010 and specialises in solar power solutions. The Lappeenranta-based company delivers customised solutions and projects. GEF’s project portfolio includes Finland’s largest solar power station built for Helen Oy in Kivikko, Helsinki.

According to GEF founder and executive partner Miko Huomo, solar energy is a growing industry around the world. Two years ago, the Finnish company set about mapping international opportunities in earnest. “We decided to focus on North Africa, the Middle East and Mexico, since these areas receive twice the amount of solar radiation as Finland,” Huomo says.

Support from Finnpartnership

GEF was also looking for countries which have a feed-in tariff for solar energy. The tariffs set a price guarantee for companies that supply renewable energy to the grid, ensuring that the investment is profitable. GEF identified Egypt as a potential target country in its initial searches. The final choice was made once GEF was able to carry out a more detailed analysis of the country’s solar energy market with support from Finnpartnership. “The support enabled us to spend more time in Egypt and get more information about the country. In terms of launching the local operation, it was crucial for us to find the right local partners to organise our product sales and maintenance services,” Huomo says. GEF eventually chose an Egyptian company familiar with the potential client base but without previous experience in solar energy. “Thanks to Finnpartnership’s help, we were able to train our partners. The support has been vitally important. We couldn’t have gone to Egypt without it.”

Egypt seeks to increase the use of renewables

Most electricity in Egypt is produced with natural gas from the country’s coastal areas. There are some hydropower stations but also ones that use diesel. The Egyptian government wants to increase the proportion of renewable energy consumption in order to reduce emissions and pollution in densely populated urban areas. There are also some wind farm projects under way. “Electricity consumption rises continuously as Egyptian society develops and becomes more and more technological. It is important for the country to have more access to clean and emissionless energy at a reasonable price.”

Competition in the solar energy market is fierce. Huomo believes that high quality and cost-efficient methods will help his company succeed in Egypt, too. “We will succeed if we do things well. It’s easier when you have good partners than if you go at it alone. The biggest challenge was finding the right partners and training them. Political and economic uncertainty is also a major challenge in Egypt.”

First deal made in November

GEF’s solar power systems are suitable for various industries including retail, logistics and manufacturing. These types of businesses have large properties which consume a lot of electricity and offer space for the installation of rooftop solar panels. GEF’s solar energy system also includes its proprietary cloud-based system for production monitoring and consumption management, which supports energy efficiency and controlling the use of solar energy at the individual building level. “The fully automated solution ensures smooth operation of the service and helps to optimise maintenance schedules.”

GEF secured its first deal in Egypt in November 2016. The company is delivering a high-MW solar power station to be installed on the roof of an industrial plant near Cairo. The Egyptian client is TEPCO, which provides products and services related to electric power transmission and distribution. GEF is responsible for the design of the solar station, the supply contracts and construction. The delivery includes 3,755 monocrystalline solar panels, a centralised inverter solution and GEF’s management and monitoring system. The design work will be done in Finland. Part of the equipment manufacturing and assembly will be done in Egypt, and local installation service providers will also be used.

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