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Solar panels in the Gobi desert
Release

10 February 2020

Mott MacDonald successfully provides environmental and social advice on the largest solar PV complex in Africa

Mott MacDonald delivered the environmental and social construction monitoring on behalf of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporate (IFC) for their project portfolios at the Benban solar complex in Egypt. The consultancy has also been providing technical advisory services for the IFC portfolio, which brought the projects to successful financial close. The complex has now entered commercial operation and Mott MacDonald continues to provide services during the operational phase.

The Benban solar complex is a £2 billion development on Africa’s largest grid connected solar park, with an installed capacity of 1.5GW of clean energy that will avoid over 1.9 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

The project extends over 37 square km and will provide renewable energy to more than 1 million homes. It is equivalent to 3% of Egypt’s installed capacity and has 6 million installed solar PV panels.

Key issues Mott MacDonald focused on during monitoring included waste and wastewater management, labour and working conditions, water sourcing, hazardous material and traffic management. The monitoring also addressed security management and gender and vulnerability risks. The company was supported by local sub-consultant Environment and Development Group.

During peak construction, there were 8,000-10,000 workers at the Benban solar complex each day, of which more than 5,000 workers were sourced from the local district.

Rachel Watson, project director, Mott MacDonald said: “The Benban project shows that the impact of Mott MacDonald’s environmental and social leadership can extend further than a single development. Proactive advice, encouragement and guidance lead to wider improvements in practice across the whole complex, the local communities and environment. This contributes to Mott MacDonald’s wider goal to enable infrastructure developments that respect and protect natural and community values and workers welfare.”

Sam Walker, Senior Advisor, Environment & Sustainability, EBRD, said: “The Mott MacDonald team has worked seamlessly with EBRD and our co-financiers working exceptionally hard to successfully deliver this flagship project. As Lenders E&S Advisors the Mott MacDonald team has had to navigate many parties with multiple stakeholders involved in this complex project. The Lenders have relied on the team to interpret our respective requirements, offer pragmatic solutions and manage challenging situations.

“The team has developed an excellent working relationship with the lenders and the project developers alike while maintaining professionalism to ensure smooth project execution and increased update of E&S issues. The calibre of the individuals deployed by Mott MacDonald in this project are of the highest quality and have been a pleasure to work with throughout. The team is responsive, reliable and able to operate with multiple stakeholders with differing priorities, cultures and views. The Mott MacDonald team has been instrument to the success of this project.”

Raymi Craig Beltran, global E&S sector lead for Mining and Energy, IFC said: “Bringing the Benban Solar Park into operations has been a challenging but rewarding process and is witness to how the various environmental, social and health and safety (ESHS) risks of this complex project can be addressed successfully through close collaboration and teamwork between Egyptian and international parties.

“Mott MacDonald has played a crucial role in this process in helping the Lender team identify project-specific and cumulative ESHS risks early-on and engaging with our clients and wider stakeholders closely to address them successfully.”

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