Uganda Begins construction of $18m Solar Power Plant

Stephene Bontemps, Amb. Schmidt and Lokeris perform the ground breaking for the construction of 10 MW solar plant in Soroti which will cost $18 million. (PHOTO BY SAMUEL NABWIISO)

Uganda’s Minister of State for Mineral Development, Peter Lokeris, last week, invited more investors to take up development of renewable energy opportunities available in the country.

“Most power investors prefer to invest in hydro-power technologies which is very expensive, leaving out the untapped solar energy opportunities in the country.  Over dependence on hydro-power will not solve the country’s energy problem. Let us diversify the power sector so that all parts of the country have access to clean energy,” he said.

He said Uganda has the favourable climatic conditions to support the production of solar power.

He was officiating at the ground-breaking for the construction of a $18 million solar power plant  in Soroti, eastern Uganda. The plant is expected to generate 10MW  and is being developed by Access Power Company,  a United Arab Emirates-based company.

The 10MW  photovoltaic plant, according to East African Business Week, is expected to be in operational  and  connected  to the national  grid by July  2016 providing  electricity to about 40,000 homes.

Spanish engineering firm, TSK Group, are carrying out construction after being awarded the Engineering  Procurement  and Construction  contract.

However TSK Group will  subcontract  part of the works to qualified local firms in the country.

The Head  the European Union Delegation to Uganda Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said access to clean energy by the local communities has multiplier effects on their social and economic development.

“Access to cheap and reliable  power is powerful engine towards supporting  the local communities to participate effectively  in the national economy. The  European Union will continue supporting Uganda’s power sector,” he said.

Uganda currently has about 800 MW of installed  electricity supply , mostly  from hydro and thermal  sources.  The World Bank says Uganda has an 18.2% electrification rate.

Amb. Schmidt  said the Soroti solar power grid project will make a strong contribution to increasing access to clean energy in the region of which the greatest population depends on biomass, which  has negative environmental impact, especially forest cover.

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