Lusaka - Zambia is inching closer to reducing the over-dependence on hydropower amid persistent drought caused by climate change effects and has awarded 120-megawatt solar tenders to six successful bidders.
This is part of the country’s plan to attain 51% energy access of its more than 16 million population by the turn of the next decade, as envisioned in the Rural Electrification Master Plan and Vision 2030.
Under the terms, ET FiT Zambia, the project co-coordinators, the six solar PV independent power producer (IPP) projects totalling 120MWac would be undertaken to bolster solar energy supply.
The lowest successful bid came in at 3.999 US cents/kWh and the weighted average of all six successful projects is 4.41 USc/kWh1.
According to project evaluations by experts, this is the largest single Solar PV tender implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa, besides South Africa, and is the first time a tariff below 4 USc/kWh is achieved through a public tender in the region.
The GET FiT tender had a target outcome of 100MWac, but due to the favourable results, the government and GET FiT Investment Committee sought to award an additional 20MWac. This was premised not only on price alone but also based on a total combined technical and financial score.
GET FiT is a government programme that facilitates private sector investment in small and medium scale renewable energy IPPs in Zambia.
The programme is a partnership between the Department of Energy and the German Development Bank, KfW, and is implemented by the GET FiT Secretariat.
Energy ministry permanent secretary, Emeldah Chola, told The Southern Times that the six companies would be tasked to provide solar PV energy facilities for 120MW.
One of the companies, CEC/InnoVent SAS (a joint venture) will be developing the Garneton north and south sites. situated in Kitwe, on an IPP basis to produce power at a cost of 4.80 USc/kWh.
Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), renowned as Zambia’s provider of electricity to the mining companies on the Copperbelt under the Bulk Power Supply Agreement with the energy utility company, known as Zesco formed a joint venture with French-based InnoVent SAS.
The initiative to build its capacity was to help develop two projects of 20MW each in Kitwe, according to CEC managing director, Owen Silavwe. The success of the project proposals demonstrates the two companies’ commitment to undertake the task.
At the same event, Judy Raphael, GET FiT Zambia Director, stressed on the need for expeditious completion of the solar project, adding:
“Now that the awards are in place and the projects will have to sign PPAs and achieve financial close, the importance of ensuring a financially viable sector becomes even more pressing. GET FiT Zambia looks forward to working with GRZ and ZESCO to ensure timely implementation of these projects,” Raphael said.
French Ambassador to Zambia, Sylvian Berger, has pledged his country’s commitment to helping Zambia develop in innovation and technology.