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The first electric power system in Egypt was introduced about one hundred years ago when a private company was given the concession to generate and distribute electricity for lighting purposes in Cairo city and then was given another concession to operate an electricity system in Alexandria. The transmission voltages at that time were within the medium voltage range of 2000 - 6000 volts. At later stages of development, diesel plants with low voltage distribution network were installed in the main cities for lighting purposes.

In the early 1930's, the Egyptian government started land reclamation programs, where electrically driven pumps were needed for water drainage in the Delta region in north Egypt and for lifting water from the Nile river to irrigate the reclaimed land in upper Egypt. Small steam turbine plants were installed with ratings of the order of 1000 - 2500 kW. Long transmission lines were designed and constructed to operate at the voltage level of 66 kV. However, it was then realised that insulators for the transmission lines and outdoor switchgear, which were designed according to the European experience, were not suitable for operation in the prevailing environments in Egypt and the transmission system had to be operated at 33 kV instead of 66 kV.

Field investigations were carried out to study this environmental phenomenon. This was followed by laboratory investigations and testing on transmission line insulation which resulted in the development of pioneer theories on the mechanism of failure of contaminated insulators. Several reports in this field have been presented in the CIGRE Sessions by Egyptian research workers.

In the year 1961, a hydroelectric power plant was commissioned at Aswan to utilize the potential hydraulic energy of the old Aswan dam. The available power, of the order 300 MW, was utilized to operate a fertilizer factory and for driving the water pumping irrigation system for the development of the agriculture in Upper Egypt. The voltage used for the transmission network was 132 kV. At that time it was realized that a high voltage network is necessary to interconnect the different isolated systems in Egypt to operate in one unified network. Studies and plans were set to construct a 220 kV network to connect the electric power systems of Cairo and Alexandria as well as the irrigation and drainage electricity network in one system. Commissioning of the first sections of this 220 kV system began in 1967 with the commissioning of the first generating units of the Aswan High Dam hydroelectric power plant.

The construction of the Aswan High Dam and its 2100 MV hydroelectric power plant was associated with the construction of a 500 kV transmission system to transmit the available energy to the load centers in Cairo and other parts of Egypt where the 200 kV and 132 kV networks distribute the energy to the subcenters. It is worthy to mention that at the mid 1960's the 500 kV voltage level was the highest voltage used in the world and Egypt was one of the pioneers in this voltage level besides USA & USSR.

Because of the localization of the inhabited area within the valley of the Nile river, the high voltage transmission system was also limited to the valley and the Nile Delta in the north. However, with the plans of economic and social development, extensions of the high voltage networks are being implemented to reach most of the country. In the east, 500 kV lines are under construction to reach the borders of Egypt to interconnect to Jordan. In the west, 220 kV lines are under construction along the Mediterranean Sea coast to reach the borders of Egypt with Libya.

In the year 1993, the total length of the high voltage transmission system (500 kV, 220 kV, and 132 kV) was about 10000 km. The total demand on this system was about 7000 MW.

Evolution of the Transmission Length (1972 - 1992/93)
Evolution of Transmission Lines Lengths (1970 - 1992/93)

The Egyptian power system went through fast developments during the 1980's and 1990's. Several power plants have been installed bringing the total installed capacity to about 12000 MW. Other power plants are being constructed in order to cope with the increase of the future demand with a unit capacity of 600 MW. Transmission lines extensions will be implemented in order to supply the existing load centers and also reach most of the isolated systems. It is forecasted that the electric energy requirements would be about 113 TWh, in the year 2015, while the corresponding maximum demand would be about 17300 MW.

Development of Egyptian Power System up to 2015

Development of Egyptian Power System up to 2015

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Updated: 2016/06/30

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