Mozambique to get its first large solar plant

With severe drought endangering its people’s lives and cutting its supply of hydropower, the East African country of Mozambique has signed an $80m deal to get its first big solar plant, from Norway.

The 40MW plant, supplied by Oslo-based Scatec Solar, will deliver power to the national grid and produce energy for some 175,000 households in the north of the country.

Construction of the plant, expected to supply 77,000 MWh per year, will start in the first quarter of 2017 near the city of Mocuba.

Scatec Solar will provide 52.5% of the equity, while Norwegian state-owned development investment fund KLP Norfund Investments will provide 22.5%. Mozambique’s state-owned utility Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM) will provide 25%.

The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund will provide project finance debt. The parties are targeting financial close also in the first quarter of 2017.

"Access to reliable energy is a prerequisite for development. Only 3% of the world’s electricity is generated in Africa, although 15% of the world’s population lives here," said Norfund CEO, Kjell Roland, announcing the deal on 31 October.

In July it was announced that Mozambique’s only hydropower plant on the Zambezi River would scale down electricity generation for the rest of the year because of El Nino-induced water shortages in the region.

Earlier this year at least 1.5 million people in Mozambique were classed as in need of assistance due to drought, with malnutrition rates in three provinces judged as cause for concern.

Scatec now operates 200MW worth of solar power plants in South Africa and Rwanda, and has new projects under development across in Mali, Nigeria and Kenya, the company said.

Photograph: Scatec’s Kalkbult solar power plant 1 in South Africa (Scatec)

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