UK-based renewable energy developer Blue Energy has been given the green light to build the largest solar farm in Africa.
The $400 million photovoltaic plant near the village of Aiwiaso in the west of the country will be the first to be developed in Ghana under its 2011 Energy Act, which brought in a system of feed-in tariffs to encourage investment.
Last month, Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei said he was looking to attract $1 billion in private investment to help the country achieve its target of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The 155 MW Nzema development will, by itself, increase the West African nation’s generating capacity by 6% once it is fully operational in 2015 and contribute 20% of the government’s renewables target.
The project has secured all the consents it needs to start work, including from Ghana’s electricity regulators, the Energy Commission and Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, which have awarded it a generation licence and feed-in tariff for the 20-year life of the plant.
Blue Energy, which is owned and funded by one of Europe’s largest private asset and developments companies, Stadium Group, says it can find the necessary development funding and equity. Debt financing and additional investment from financial institutions and global equity and infrastructure funds is expected to be finalised over the next six months.
Work should start on the installation of the 630,000 solar photovoltaic modules by the end of next year and the first power will start being generated as early as 2014 as each section is completed.
As well as providing power, the project will create 500 jobs during the two-year construction period and 200 permanent jobs once operational, as well as over 2000 jobs in the local economy.
“Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa,” says CEO of Blue Energy Chris Dean. “There’s huge potential to develop renewable power in the region. We believe Nzema will show other countries what can be achieved and spur them to action.”
For further information:
Mixed forecast for giant Desertec solar plan (23-Nov)
Abengoa to construct two concentrating solar power farms in South Africa (8-Dec 2011)
European Desertec solar initiative to start construction in Morocco (16-Nov)
Article source: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/i/5600/