Construction underway at Burundi’s first utility-scale solar plant

No matter which side of the energy industry coin you are on, it is always nice to see large-scale energy projects being developed for communities that have scant access to electricity. And electricity access hardly gets more limited than in the developing African nation of Burundi, where only 4% of the population has residential access to electricity.

This is one of the reasons that solar and social development enterprise Gigawatt Global chose Burundi for this project, back in April 2015. Finally, after securing all of the financing for the project, the ground-breaking has taken place for the 7.5 MW solar plant 100 km from the capital city of Bujumbura.

The full cost of the project is believed to be US$ 14 million, making it the largest private international investment in the power sector in Burundi in nearly 30 years. Once completed, forecasted for the fourth quarter of 2017, the electricity generated at the site will be sold to the country’s national electric company, REGIDESO, on a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Wanting to celebrate the momentous event in style, some 2,500 people turned up for the ground-breaking ceremony, for what will be the first utility-scale solar PV project in the country.

“We are very excited at the groundbreaking of the Gigawatt Burundi solar field,” proclaimed Burundi’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Come Manirakiza. “After their success in Rwanda, Gigawatt Global has proven it can be relied on to deliver efficient, clean renewable energy at reasonable cost, contributing greatly to our economy and society. We look forward to the speedy completion of this project, and are thankful for the collaboration and cooperation with Gigawatt Global as energy in Burundi is a clear priority.”

Proving to be a company with a social outlook, Gigawatt Global is hoping that this project will help to advance economic and social development in Burundi, by adding 15% generation capacity within the country. And it does not want to stop here, as it is planning to invest US$ 2 billion in renewable energy projects across Africa as partners of the White House Power Africa initiative.

“Empowering economic and social development is at the heart of our green energy business,” commented VP for Finance and Business Development of Gigawatt Global Michael Fichtenberg. “This high impact development investment supported by leading international financial institutions signals that Burundi is open for development and business.”