Zabaleen: LE 43.03 (Median = 35)
Darb El Ahmar: LE 39.92 (Median = 35)
Average Estimated monthly electricity bill for those who use electric water heaters:
Zabaleen (n=62) : LE 58.39 (median = 40)
Darb El Ahmar (n=126) LE 46.0 (median = 40)
Average Estimated monthly electricity bill for those who use gas water heaters:
Zabaleen (n = 16): LE 40.81 (median = 30) (difference from 58.39, the average of electric heater users: LE 17.58; median difference = 10)
Darb El Ahmar (n= 46): LE 40.35 (median = 40) (difference from 46.00, the average of electric heater users: LE 5.65, median difference = 0)
Average Estimated monthly electricity bill for those who use the kitchen stove to heat water:
Zabaleen (n = 104): LE 38.64 (Median = 30) (difference from 58.39, the average of electric heater users: LE 19.75)
Darb El Ahmar (n= 46): LE 27.85 (Median = 25) (difference from 46.00, the average of electric heater users: LE 18.15)
Average Estimated monthly electricity bill for those who use a One Eye Portable Stove:
Zabaleen (n = 10): LE 29.7 (Median = 30) (difference from 58.39, the average = 28.69, difference from median = 10)
Darb El Ahmar (n=3): LE 18.33 (Median = 15) (difference from 46, the electric users average, = 27.67, medians difference = 40 - 15 = 25).
Average Estimated monthly electricity bill for those who use a Hamil floor grill to heat water:
Zabaleen (n = 26): LE 32.8 (Median = 32.5) (difference from 58.39, the average = 25.59, difference of medians = 7.5)
Darb El Ahmar (n=1) LE 14 (Median = 14) difference from average = 25.92, difference from median = 21)
Average Estimated monthly electricity bill for those who use a Babur to heat water:
Zabaleen (n = 3): LE 16.7 (Median = 20) (difference from 58.39, the average = 41.69, difference from 40, the median = 20)
Darb El Ahmar (n=8) LE 25.15 (Median = 23.50) difference from 46, the average = 20.85 difference from 40, the median = 16.50)
Though there is no question that heating water with electricity is more expensive per liter than heating with gas, more detailed analysis is needed to determine why electric heater users in the Zabaleen community appear to be (or at least report) spending as much as three times as much on water heating than the gas users in Darb Al Ahmar. It may be that there is greater awareness of the true price differences among the Zabaleen (i.e. that water heating can take up to a third of the electric bill) but it could also be that the Zabaleen, who frequently run home businesses with electricity intensive machinery, have larger family dwellings with more light bulbs and other appliances per building, have generally larger electric bills. Evidence that it might be a family size issue is supplied by the fact that the amount of electricity used by stove heating families in the Zabaleen is also higher than that used by stove heating members of Darb El Ahmar, and the same difference in cost is observed in both cases: A differential of approximately 18 to 20 LE per month.
It is hard to say why those using gas heaters in Darb El Ahmar have such a high electric bill, but perhaps those who can afford white goods like electric hot water heaters and gas hot water heaters are also those who consume more in general.
The differential between the electric heater users in the Zabaleen and those in Darb El Ahmar could reflect that the types of Zabaleen families that can afford to use electric water heaters also consume more electricity; i.e. those that are conservative about electricity use and costs would be those least likely to own electric hot water heaters.
Gas and electricity are heavily subsidized by the Egyptian government. This makes any transition to renewable energy systems particularly problematic. It is estimated that Egypt loses approximately 40 Billion LE (about 7 or 8 billion dollars, depending on how the dollar slides; it's hard to convert to dollars these days!), or roughly 8% of her GDP subsidizing gas and electricity, money that could be invested, as Tunisia is now doing, under the UNEP initiative, in solar energy systems for long term savings and benefits.
The current subsidies on power and fuels make prices roughly five times lower than they would be in the free market. This means that what would normally be a 5 year pay back period on a solar thermal system, for example, will take 25 years to pay back in Cairo. A solar electric system, with a payback period of normally 15 years, will take 75 years in Cairo.
Small wonder, then, that so few people are using renewable energy in Egypt!
Cairo offers a tiered subsidy system that is supposed to benefit the poor. As you can see from the table below, the first 50 kWH each month only cost 5 piastres -- about a penny! The next tier, from 51 to 200 KWh, cost only 9.2 pt, and up to 350 KWh one is only paying 12.5 pt, still roughly 2 and a half cents per KWh.
First, the Tariff Structure for Cairo Electric Services (from the Annual Report 2005/2006):
(Pt = piastres; 100 Pt = 1 LE = 20 cents, 5 pt = 1 cent)
kWh monthly: Pt/KwH
1) First 50: 5
2) 51 - 200: 9.2
3) 201 - 350: 12.5
4) 351 - 650: 18
5) 651 - 1000: 25.5
6) More than 1000: 31
1) First 100: 19.8
2) 101 - 250: 28.7
3) 251 - 600: 36.6
4) 601 - 1000: 45.3
5) More than 1000: 47.5
Public lighting: 33.1 pt/KWh
The author and his wife monitored a typical 50 liter Olympic Electric heater for a month, taking two 5 minute showers a day (25 liters per shower) and found an average use of 2 KW per 50 liters. At this rate, over a month, we are consuming 60 KWH. The first 50 cost 50 cents, the next 10 cost roughly 20 cents, thus a month of showering cost 70 cents for a couple.
Figuring that 50 liters a day costs 2 KWH per day, we ask ourselves, what would be the cost to heat 200 liters per day (the equivalent of our solar hot water tank)? 200 liters would consume roughly 8 KWH per day; over the month that would be 240 kWh. That would cost 50 x 5 = 250 Pt + 150 x 9.2 = 1380 Pt + 40 x 12.5 = 500 Pt; So to heat 200 liters per day for a month would cost 2130 Pt or 21 LE 30 piastres. This is equivalent to 4 dollars.
Since it costs us, in materials, roughly 2500 LE to build a solar hot water system, it would take 117 months, or 9.7 years, to pay back the investment!!
With a 10 year payback, it is no wonder that almost nobody in Egypt (and virtually nobody among the urban poor) find it economical to switch to the use of solar hot water systems.
Here is an article describing the issues of subsidies from the Magazine Egypt Oil and Gas. It contains quotes from my mentor professors at the American University in Cairo, Dr. Tarek Selim (Economics) and Dr. Salah El Haggar (Environmental Engineering):
|Subsidies in Egypt: An issue too hot to touch or too cold to change?|
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Subsidies have become the keyword to an ongoing controversy in the Egyptian energy sector. Arguments swinging between keeping and lifting oil and gas subsidies have raised concerns about the negative effects of “inefficiency” in implementing the subsidization system; its threats endangering the future of energy reserves and its state of being an economic burden on the government. Egypt Oil & Gas Newspaper examines the different perspectives of this debate
Subsidies: The Facts
Lift them or leave them?
Finding middle grounds
By Yomna Bassiouni