Zambia shortlists bidders for 100 MW of solar projects


As Zambia looks for ways to plug its growing energy gap, Reuters has reported that the government has begun shortlisting potential developers to build two 50 MW solar PV plants in the country.

Zambia’s power shortfall is currently at 1 GW, having seen output from a large hydro generation plant suffer due to an ongoing drought in the country.

With support from the World Bank, however, the Zambian government is hoping to attract investment in its fledgling solar PV sector, and the country’s Industrial Development Corporation has said that a shortlist of bidders has been compiled for two flagship projects.

Among the leading names hopeful of securing a winning bid are NEON S.A.S./First Solar, and Enel Green Power SpA (EGP) of Italy. First Solar has bid for one 50 MW project at a tariff of $0.062/kWh, while EGP’s bid is expected to be around $0.078/kWh.

These proposed tariffs would remain fixed for 25 years and would be Zambia’s first large-scale independent power producers (IPP) supported by the World Bank.

"The two provisional winning tariffs are both well below those typically offered under unsolicited proposals from solar developers in Zambia or elsewhere in Africa," said a statement from the Industrial Development Corporation.

Last year, Zambian minister of mines, energy and water development Christopher Yaluma was bullish on the country’s solar aims, stating that it would seek to add 1.2 GW of solar power to the grid by August this year.

In the summer of 2015, Zambia’s power shortfall was already at 560 MW, but further droughts have widened that chasm and pushed the figure higher. According to Bloomberg, the country remains 90% reliant on hydropower for its electricity production.