China continues to play a major role in strengthening renewable energy infrastructure in Africa. The Asian giant has been lending financial and technical assistance to African countries looking to install solar, wind, and hydro power projects.
Tanzania has become the latest beneficiary of financial assistance from China, for a 300 MW wind energy project. China’s Export-Import Bank will provide $136 million in loan to set up a part of this project that will have a generation capacity of 50 MW.
The project, to be developed by Geo Wind Tanzania Limited, is expected to start power generation from December 2016. The company will sign agreements with a Chinese contractor for the supply of wind turbines and other equipment and construction of the project.
According to the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA), Tanzania’s electricity sector (PDF) is in urgent need of renewal. While the country has an installed capacity of 1,521 MW, only 900 MW of capacity is available. National connectivity in the country is low at 21%, with the rural connectivity even lower at 7%. The government aims to increase national connectivity to 30% and rural connectivity to 15%.
Tanzania is gifted with significant renewable energy resources waiting to be exploited through favourable government regulations and policies. Small hydropower and geothermal energy have estimated potential of about 480 MW and 650 MW respectively.
EWURA admits that a comprehensive policy to support the development of renewable energy infrastructure should include measures to promote public awareness about renewable energy, attractive feed-in tariff regulations, and financial enhancement faculties.
China has been making investments worth billions of dollars in the power sector infrastructure in countries across Africa. Chinese state-owned and private companies have signed several deals to set up power projects based on coal, hydro power, and renewable energy technologies. Recently, the UN Environmental Program recognised China as the world’s largest player in renewable energy trade and investment domain.
Image Credit: Fanny Schertzer | CC BY-2.5