A consortium composed of Neoen SAS and First Solar has won the project bid for a new 47.5 megawatt utility-scale solar energy project to be built in Zambia.
The contract for the new solar energy project was awarded to the Neoen SAS and First Solar consortium by Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which offered a “ground-breaking” tariff of just $0.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This is the lowest such solar energy project tariff in sub-Saharan Africa to date.
The 47.5 megawatt (MW) Zambian project contract award was secured under the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program. The project is actually the first to be developed under the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program. Notably, the project is also part of Zambia’s first utility-scale Independent Power Producers (IPP) scheme for solar energy projects.
Going by the current development timeline, the project — to be located in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone — is expected to be completed by the middle of 2017.
It should also be noted here that the IDC will be retaining 20% stake in the project — alongside the French renewable energy project firm Neoen SAS and First Solar. The electricity generated by the project will be sold to the state-owned utility company ZESCO under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The press release notes that the project, which is named after Zambia’s West Lunga National Park, “will cover an area of almost 129 acres, equal to approximately 73 soccer pitches. The project will displace the need for 125 million liters of water that would have been consumed by conventional generation, because solar PV does not require any water to generate energy.”
The release also notes that the facility will feature around “450,000 high performance First Solar modules, which offer up to 6% more energy in Zambia that conventional crystalline silicon PV panels. This is a direct result of the modules’ superior temperature coefficient, which translates into higher energy yields in warm climates, and their spectral response which allows them to generate more energy than conventional crystalline silicon panels, in humid conditions.”
First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Africa, Nasim Khan, commented: “By partnering with Neoen and First Solar, Zambia stands to gain from over 14 gigawatts of global renewable energy experience. And it is this combined experience that will deliver a world-class power generation asset. Significantly, this project shatters the misperception that low cost energy cannot be delivered with high quality, high performance modules.”