In the wake of recurrent electricity blackouts during the summer months of the three consecutive years since 2012, each lasting for several hours daily, it became clear that Egypt is facing a severe energy shortage where peak electricity demand was fast outpacing supply. An investigation of the reasons of the widespread blackouts revealed that the power shortages were primarily attributed to the unavailability of natural gas to meet peak demand loads. Although agricultural residues account for the lion's share of the solid waste generated in Egypt, sustainable usage of this substantial quantity of bio-residues continues to present a formidable challenge for Egypt. The primary objective of the authors of this paper was to shed light on how to capitalize on Egypt's extensive resources from agricultural residues and to propose enablers for promoting sustainable energy generation using biomass to ultimately help in bridging Egypt's current energy gap using indigenous resources. In view of the current state of technological maturity, a temporal recommendation for energy generation was provided. Three energy conversion technologies covering combustion (direct firing), co-firing and gasification were chosen for the analysis presented in this work. Within the context of Egypt's top energy consuming sectors of power, transport and industry, energy end-uses comprising electricity generation, cement production and chemicals production were considered for the analysis. Accordingly, four alternative waste-to-energy pathways, each representing an energy end-use, were investigated. In order to holistically evaluate the four-alternative biomass waste-to-energy pathways against criteria representing environmental, societal and economic pillars of sustainable development, a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis was performed. This analysis tool was specifically chosen because of its capability of handling the different criteria associated with the aforementioned pillars, each with its relevant varying dimension. Considering the analysis outcomes, gasification of bio-mass for chemicals production was identified as the optimal waste-to-energy pathway. On a short-term scale implementation horizon, the first priority for utilizing the energy content of the discarded agricultural residues was for cement production using co-firing, and the second priority is for electricity generation using direct firing. To accelerate fossil fuel substitution by agricultural residues, in lieu of coal, for cement production in Egypt, an initial substitution target of at least 20% should be established. This would result in annual greenhouse gas emissions savings of about 8.5 million tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent. For medium and long-term implementation horizons, the recommended energy generation pathway is gasification for production of ammonia and diesel fuel, respectively. Based on a total annual quantity of approximately, fifteen million tons of discarded agricultural residues, there is a yearly potential for producing up to one million tons of diesel fuel and about seven million tons of ammonia (urea) for fertilizers. Regarding Egypt's renewable energy generation targets for 2022, for which there are no targets announced for biomass energy, a proposed share of 3% should be allotted for biomass. To entice private investment into biomass-to-energy applications, a Feed-In-Tariff of thirteen US cents per KWH was proposed. The government should offer a suite of policy, institutional, market, financial, technical and informational incentives to encourage and promote energy generation from agricultural residues.

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Journal of Cleaner Production
Department of Public Administration

Abdulrahman, A. O., & Huisingh, D. (2018). The role of biomass as a cleaner energy source in Egypt's energy mix. Journal of Cleaner Production, 172, 3918–3930. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.05.049