October 24, 2017

Soroti Solar power plant launch now for November

KAMPALA, JULY27 – The launch of Access Power’s 10MW solar power station in Soroti, initially set for July has been pushed back by several months.

Although construction is understood to be coming to a close and September had been tentatively selected for the official launch, the event has again been put off with November now the most likely new launch date.

Sources within the energy sector however told 256BN the shift in launch dates is not related to technical glitches but is rather the result of the promoters wanting President Museveni to preside over the event.

“The promoters have been forced to accommodate the President’s schedule, otherwise September had been selected as the definitive launch month,” one of the sources explained.

Access Uganda Solar, a tie-up between Access Power Middle East and Africa and Luxembourg based Eren Renewable Energy (EREN RE), launched construction of the $19million power station at Alaki village on March 17.

The station, the largest solar farm so far in Uganda promises bring electric power supply to some 40,000 households in the eastern Uganda.

The power station with a projected plant availability of 25 percent will feed directly into the national grid, supplementing day-time power supply to Soroti.

The project is funded by a combination of equity and long term debt with the debt provided by FMO while the equity is provided by Eren RE and Access. KFW has provided a $9.5 million grant in upfront payment to the developers to buy down the tariff to about 11cents a kilowatt hour.

Speaking during the launch of construction activities last March, Christophe Fleurence, the Vice-President for Business Development in Africa for EREN RE said: “The extensive political and international support to this project, unprecedented in Uganda and in the region, underlines the broad willingness to shift boundaries in electricity generation. EREN RE which is a renewable energy investor and a long-term independent power producer is determined to switch light on in many other places in Africa and emerging markets more generally, as efficiently as it was achieved at Soroti.”

Although it will have a nominal capacity of 10MW and a design life of 30 years, the plant is scalable to 20MW because its sub-station has been designed to handle an additional 20MW of solar energy.

Sixty percent of Africa’s population lives without access to reliable electricity according to the International Energy Agency. But this is bound to change as the continent becomes a prime destination for investment with $25 billion invested in renewables over the past six years.

According to Mr. Wilson Wafula, the Acting Assistant Commissioner for Renewable Energy at the Ugandan ministry of energy, the Soroti plant is one of several solar powers stations in the pipeline. Another group of private investors are mobilizing funding for a 10MW solar farm in Tororo while the Uganda Development Corporation is also exploring the feasibility of a large scale solar power project in northern Uganda.

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