Published on March 22nd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan5
Tanzania’s Largest Solar Power Project Springs Forward
Tanzania probably doesn’t come to mind when you think about solar power leaders. But it’s actually working on a solar power project worthy of global notice, I think. The solar project will put solar power on “45 secondary schools, 10 health centres, 120 dispensaries, municipal buildings and businesses across 25 village market centres currently without access to the electricity grid.”
Camco International, a global clean energy developer, and Rex Investment Limited (RIL), a solar power contractor based in Tanzania, were just awarded $4.7 million for this rural Tanzanian solar power project in the region of Kigoma.
“The contract was awarded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US foreign aid agency which operates in Tanzania as the Millennium Challenge Account – Tanzania (MCA-T),” Camco notes. “As part of the project Camco will also work to encourage households in the region to install small-scale solar home systems (SHS) by advising communities on the collective purchase and installation of systems in bulk, thereby achieving significant economies of scale.”
While a modest 208kW in projected solar power capacity, this is the larges solar power project in the history of Tanzania and will be very important for this rural region.
Work is projected to begin on the project in May 2012 and should be done by July 2013.
Tanzania has a ton of solar power potential and very little electricity — perfect for leapfrogging fossil fuels and going straight to clean energy:
“Currently only 15% of Tanzania’s population has access to electricity according to the country’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals. Tanzania ranks amongst the world’s top ten countries for solar irradiation and small-scale solar power installations of the type promoted under the Kigoma programme are expected to play an increasingly important role in meeting the growing energy demand of Tanzania’s rural communities.”
Jeff Felten, Managing Director, Camco Tanzania said: “We are delighted that the MCC has recognized the positive impact small-scale solar installations can have on rural off-grid communities in Tanzania. While industrialized countries are trying to rethink or refit their old coal-fired plants, much of Africa could potentially leapfrog that stage and move straight to renewable energy generation. The MCC’s award of the Kigoma Solar Project to the joint venture partnership between Camco and RIL is an important validation of our unrivalled expertise and experience developing off-grid rural energy projects in Tanzania. In RIL we are pleased to have identified a strong contractor with which to partner and Camco looks forward to working together to further expand the market for solar energy use in Tanzania.”