The US$400 million Nzema project, near the village of Aiwiaso in western Ghana, will be a 155 MW facility comprising 630,000 modules on its 183-hectare site.
Nzema, near the deep water port of Takoradi, will provide 500 construction jobs over a two-year build, 200 permanent posts once operational and is expected to lead to a further 2,100 local jobs through sub-contracting to Ghanaian firms and demand for goods, services and education.
It is estimated the huge project will bring in $100 million in tax take for the Ghanaian government over its lifetime and save 5.5 million tons of CO2, based on the emissions from an oil-fired power station with the same generating capacity.
Nzema alone will increase the total installed power generation capacity of Ghana by 6% and will account for a fifth of the governments 2020 renewable energy target in one swoop as well as supplying enough energy to power 220,000 homes.
Chris Dean, CEO of Blue Energy, said, "Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much-needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.
"There’s huge potential to develop renewable power in the region. We believe Nzema will show other countries what can be achieved and spur them into action."
Blue Energy has agreed a 20-year PPA with Ghana’s Public Utilities Regulatory Commission and is in talks with investors with the aim of achieving financial close on the project in the first half of 2013. Installation of the modules will begin by the end of 2013 with generation beginning early in 2014 and being expanded in stages. The project is set to be fully operational by October 2015.
The Ghanaian government wants to more than double national electricity generation capacity currently largely hydro and subject to drought from 2,600 to 5,500 MW by 2015 and is aiming for 10% of generation to come from renewables by 2020. Demand for energy in Ghana is rising by 10 to 15% annually and last month the Minister for Energy Joe Oteng-Adjei called for $1 billion in investment in renewables.
The Nzema project will be the first developed under the government’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act. It will be built by Blue Energy’s subsidiary Mere Power Nzema Ltd.