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Morocco is building the biggest solar farm in all of Africa

Morocco is building the biggest solar farm in all of Africa Science & Technology World Website

Morocco's 160 MW concentrated solar farm, Noor 1, was only the start. When the African nation is done, Noor 1 will be joined by three more similarly-sized power plants which will generate a whopping 500 MW of renewable energy. That's enough to power 1 million homes, or about half of the country's residences.

The $9 billion Noor project is located outside the city of Ouarzazate on a stretch of land roughly the same size as Rabat, Morocco's capital city. "We are not an oil producer. We import 94 percent of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget," Morocco's environment minister, Hakima el-Haite, told the Guardian. Additionally, Noor 1 alone is expected to reduce the country's greenhouse emissions by up to a quarter million tons a year over 25 years. And, when Noor 2 and 3 come online in 2017, both of which can store solar energy for up to 8 hours, the entire Sahara region will have access to uninterrupted solar-generated electricity 24/7.


Scatec to build first large scale solar plant in West Africa

An historic agreement to Build-Own-and Operate West Africa’s first utility-scale solar power plant was signed here today by Norwegian company Scatec Solar and its partners, the Malian Ministry of Energy and Water and Electricité du Mali (EDM), the electricity utility of Mali.

To be located near the ancient city of Segou in South-East Mali, 240 kilometers from Bamako, the 33 MW solar project is being developed in partnership with IFC InfraVentures and the local developer Africa Power 1.

Speaking on the occasion, the Malian Minister of Energy and Water, Mr. Mamadou Frankaly Keita said “This landmark agreement signals the Government’s commitment to meet the nation’s growing energy demand and to provide clean, renewable and affordable energy to our people”.

T agreements include a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between EDM and Segou Solaire SA, the local project company controlled by Scatec Solar, for the delivery of solar power over the next 25 years. The PPA with the utility is complemented by a Concession Contract with the Government of Mali, granting license to Segou Solaire to operate.

With this PPA, Scatec strengthens its position as the leading, integrated solar IPP (Independent Power Producer) in Africa. The Oslo-headquartered company’s CEO Raymond Carlsen says “This project is another great milestone for Scatec Solar. After several years of development efforts in the region, we can now move forward with the first utility-scale solar plant in West Africa. The Malian Authorities have demonstrated decisive will to tackle the nagging issue of power supply.”

Scatec Solar (‘SSO) will own 50 percent of the power plant and World Bank’s project development fund, IFC InfraVentures will hold 32.5 percent, while the local project development company, Africa Power 1, headed by Dr Ibrahim Togola, will hold 17.5 percent. Scatec Solar will construct the plant, and in addition provide operation and maintenance services after the plant is connected to the grid.

“One of the pillars of the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Mali is to increase access to energy, a development fundamental. IFC InfraVentures’ partnership with Scatec Solar and Africa Power 1 helps advance this strategy through Scatec Segou, part of a series of renewable energy projects we are developing in the country,” said Alain Ebobisse, Global Head of IFC InfraVentures.

Dr Ibrahim Togola, the chairman of Africa Power 1 SA and General Administrator of Scatec Solar West Africa says: “Today’s event is historic because Mali now becomes the first country to install the largest solar grid-connected power plant in the region. This high profile joint-venture in which Malian citizens participate will serve as a model to launch the solar era in West Africa”.

Annual production from the 33 MW solar power plant is estimated to be 60,000 Megawatts hour (MWh). The ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar plant will deploy approximately 130,000 PV modules on a fixed tilt system and will connect to an existing transmission line. This will provide clean and affordable energy to a country in dire need for more power generation capacity to support further economic growth. The power generated from the plant represents five percent of Mali’s total electricity consumption, equal to the electricity consumption of 60,000 households.

During the construction phase, the project will provide 200 local jobs. As part of Scatec’s corporate philosophy, special emphasis will be put on transferring technical expertise to the local community.

In an era of climate change concerns, the 33 MW Segou power plant is an important initiative to reduce carbon emissions by about 46,000 tons once completed. Scatec Solar and EDM will jointly register the project with the United Nations CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) under Scatec Solar’s program for solar projects in Africa.

The project with a total cost of Euro 52 million is to be financed through 45% senior project finance debt. IFC InfraVentures will arrange the Debt for a total amount of Euro 23 million. Further, the project has already been granted a concessional loan that will cover 30% of the Capex from Climate Investment Fund through the program “Scaling Up Renewable energy in Low Income Countries Program” (SREP). The remaining 25% is provided as equity by the project partners. Financial close is expected before the end of this year.


South Africa Opens Its Biggest Solar Plant in Africa

The new 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar power project in South Africa's Northern Cape province is now online and will help the country meet its critical electricity needs.

The Jasper plant, near Kimberly, is the largest on the continent and can produce 180 000 megawatt-hours of energy a year for South African residents, enough to power up 80 000 homes.

The project was completed two months ahead of schedule and is fully operational, SolarReserve, the developer, announced on 11 November.

Jasper is located in a solar park near Kimberly that also includes the 75 MW Lesedi solar power project, which came online in May.

Also on the cards is the even-bigger 100 MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) tower. SolarReserve, along with partner ACWA Power, is bidding for the planned Redstone CSP project, which will use of SolarReserve's CSP technology with integrated energy storage.

As part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), a percentage of total project revenues from the Jasper project will be set aside for Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development for the benefit of the local communities.

"In addition to helping South Africa meet its critical electricity needs, the Jasper Project will bring long lasting economic benefits to the region," said SolarReserve's CEO Kevin Smith.

80 000 households

With more than 325 000 PV modules, the Jasper Project will deliver 180 000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity a year for South Africa residents - enough to power up to 80 000 households through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom, the South African power utility company.

The project also marks Google's first renewable energy investment in Africa.

CSP uses thousands of mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a central point to generate heat, which in turn is used to generate electricity.

More than 10,000 tracking mirrors called heliostats reside in a 1,500 acre field where they reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a large heat exchanger, called a receiver, which sits atop a 550-foot tower.

The project was developed by a consortium consisting of SolarReserve, the Kensani Group, an experienced empowerment investment player in South Africa, and Intikon Energy, a South African developer of renewable energy projects.

Equity investment and ownership for the project was provided by a group of international and South African shareholders who jointly have experience in all aspects of development,funding and operations of solar energy projects, including the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Intikon Energy, Kensani Capital Investments, Google, the PEACE Humansrus Community Trust, and SolarReserve.



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