In a move that could spark a renewable energy revolution in West Africa, Blue Energy has announced that it would build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Ghana.
The project called the ‘Nzema Project’ will be the first to go ahead under Ghana’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act. The 155 MW Nzema project is expected to be one of the biggest in the world, as currently only three solar PV plants in operation are bigger.
Chris Dean, CEO of Blue Energy, said: “Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.” He added: “There’s huge potential to develop renewable power in the region.”
Blue Energy has secured all the consents it needs to go ahead with the project. Ghana’s electricity regulators, the Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, have awarded it a generation licence and a feed-in tariff for the plant’s 20-year operational life.
The project will cost $400 million and will be fully operational in 2015. Blue Energy also plans to develop further renewable energy power plants in West Africa and has a number of projects in the pipeline.
The plant will increase Ghana’s current generating capacity by 6% and will meet 20% of the government’s target of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The Nzema plant will be built by a subsidiary of Blue Energy, Mere Power Nzema Ltd, on a 183-hectare site close to the village of Aiwiaso in Western Ghana. It has secured a 100-year lease on the site, planning permission and permission to connect to the grid.
The site enjoys good solar radiation, has excellent access to the major road system and is within easy reach of a deep water port at Takoradi.
The plant will be directly connected to the 161kV West African Power Pool transmission line, which runs alongside the site, linking Ghana to Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, and has available capacity for its load.
Installation of more than 630,000 solar PV modules will begin by the end of 2013 and electricity generation will start early the next year, with sections coming on stream as they are completed. The project is due to reach full capacity by October 2015.
The project will boost the economy of Western Ghana. It will create 500 jobs over the two-year construction period and 200 permanent jobs in operation. It is also expected to stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy, by sub-contracting activities to local companies and increasing demand for goods, services and education.