Ethiopia to get its first PV assembly plant

U.S.-based Spire Corporation and Sky Energy International have announced plans to establish the 20 megawatt (MW) turnkey module assembly plant in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in partnership with local firm Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC).

Spire Corporation’s CEO Roger Little said in a statement released, "We are pleased to support Sky and METEC to bring solar to Ethiopia." No details were available on the cost of the plant or construction timelines.

However, Spire did say the new partnership will be to the advantage of the large population, especially in rural areas, which has no access to electricity and the good radiation levels to push ahead with the project. According to Little, over 80 percent of the Ethiopian population does not have access to electricity. "Solar energy can deliver clean electricity to remote areas of Ethiopia thus improving the quality of life and ability to further their agricultural pursuits," he said.

Ethiopia, which aspires to generate 20 percent of its electricity from solar power over the next five years, enjoys an average daily radiation of 5.26 kilowatt hours per meter squared (kWh/m2), with a high of 5.55kWh/m2 and a low of 4.55KWh/m2.

Some of the areas that have been identified with potential for huge solar energy generation include western Ethiopia, especially the Gambella region, with an annual average radiation range of 4,25kWh/m2 and Northern Ethiopia especially Tigray region where an average of 6.25 kWh/m2 is experienced most part of the year.

Much of the solar power generated currently in Ethiopia is being used in lighting public buildings and powering of rural village activities like the pumping water.

The new deal by Spire Corporation, Sky Energy International and Metec is the first step towards launch of commercial solar energy initiatives in Ethiopia, a country that heavily relies on hydro sources for electricity generation.