A UK company will construct Africa’s largest solar panel based power plant; which will be fully operational in 2015.
The facility will be developed by Blue Energy; a firm majority owned and funded by members of the Stadium Group, one of Europe’s largest private asset and development companies.
The 155-megawatt Nzema project will be the first utility scale solar project to get the green light under Ghana’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act.
The facility will be constructed on a 183- hectare site close to the village of Aiwiaso in Western Ghana and be directly connected to the 161kV West African Power Pool transmission line. The project will generate 500 jobs over the two-year construction period and 200 permanent positions. It is also expected to stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy.
Nzema will add US$100 million to the government of Ghana’s coffers in taxes over the life of the project.
Africa is a slam-dunk for solar power, but various challenges have seen solar uptake on the continent a little slow off the mark.
“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,” said Chris Dean, CEO of Blue Energy.
Financial close for the $400 million project is expected in the first half of 2013. The installation of what will be more than 630,000 solar panels will commence by the end of next year. The plant will start generating electricity as sections are completed, with the first power to start flowing early in 2014 and full capacity reached by October 2015.
Ghana’s government is aiming to boost renewables capacity from a current 2600 MW today to 5500MW by 2015, which will see 10% of country’s energy generated through energy.