Scatec, Norfund begin East Africa’s first utility-scale solar power plant

Scatec Solar, the global solar energy provider, have in partnership with Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries and Dutch developer Gigawatt Global Coöperatief, successfully closed on $23.7 million in financing on an 8.5 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) solar park in Rwanda. The project, East Africa’s first utility-scale solar plant, will increase the country’s power generation capacity by approximately 8%, and will contribute significantly towards the government’s objective to increase fivefold the electricity generation capacity in Rwanda by 2017.

The PV plant will be located 60 km from the capital of Kigali on land belonging to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a residential and educational community for youth orphaned during and after the genocide in 1994. The area is well suited for solar energy generation and annual production is estimated at 16 million kWh. The electricity will be fed into the national grid under a 25 year power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA). Construction will start immediately and commercial operation of the park is expected by this summer.

The capital investment for the project will be financed through FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and Norfund, all three institutions with long experience from investing in developing countries including Rwanda. Scatec Solar and Norfund will be majority owners in the solar park with project developer Gigawatt Global maintaining a 20 % share in the project.

“We are very happy to be able to realize this first utility scale PV project in Rwanda,” Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar said. “At the end of last year, we grid connected the first utility scale solar park in Southern Africa. The 75 MW Kalkbult solar park is currently the largest in Africa. Our objective has been to bring the experience gained in South Africa to other African nations, and we are pleased to team up with Norfund, FMO and EAIF and introduce large scale solar energy to Eastern Africa.”

With limited power generation capacity, the Rwanda Government has introduced an aggressive plan to boost the nation’s generation capacity. The objective is for 50 % of the population to have access to electricity by 2017 and the installed generation capacity increased to 560 MW, up from merely 110 MW in 2013. In this context the 8.5 MW solar PV plant will be a substantial and clean power addition and the cost of electricity will be significantly lower than today’s heavy and costly reliance on diesel generation.

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