Clean Power

Published on June 21st, 2016 | by James Ayre


Neoen SAS & First Solar Win Bid For Record-Low-Price 47.5 MW Project In Zambia

June 21st, 2016 by  

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.”

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Mike Gitarev

    Maybe it’s time to look at the map. Zambia is in the middle of South Africa, several thousands km from sub-Saharian region.

  • John Norris

    For my views on why 6c/kWh seems high, see yesterday’s link on the same project…

  • Shiggity

    “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.”

    ^ This is why thermal energy cannot win / is getting wrecked.

    The water board in most city regions looks at the water assets and HAVE to say absolutely no new thermal plants. It’s not that they are “greentards”, as the conservative base likes to call them, they’ve literally run out of fresh water in certain parts of the US.

    Fracking / natural gas could also quickly fall apart for the exact same reason. The water they are using to frack is worth more than the gas they get out…

    • super390

      Modern conservatives are incapable of imagining running out of clean water. If there’s not enough for both man and nature – wipe out nature. Then privatize the water. That never fails.

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