Zambia seeks further financing for its 100 MW PV project pipeline

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The Department of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the African Development Bank is currently seeking consultants, through a request for expressions of interest, to arrange debt financing for five 20 MW IPP solar projects that the local government is hoping to build under Zambia’s Renewable Energy Financing Framework and Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff (REFiT) policy.

The scheme is being co-financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which approved over US$50 million in funding for the development of the projects in March. In particular, the GFC provided $50 million in the form of a loan, and another $2.5 million as a grant.

The REFiT program aims to tender up to 100 MW of PV as a first step. Overall, the program envisages the deployment of 200 MW to small- and medium-scale renewable energy projects up to a maximum size of 20 MW. Eligible renewables include solar PV, hydro, geothermal, biomass, waste energy and wind power.

The program combines several components: A standardized set of bankable legal documents developed with Zambian stakeholders; risk mitigation and financing support; and technical assistance ranging from input on solar PV grid integration to procurement support.

India’s Sterling and Wilson has also recently announced it intends to build a 54.3 MW solar plant in Zambia, which will be the nations’ largest when complete.

Power generation is currently being ensured in the African country by several hydroelectric, and one thermal electric, power plants with a combined capacity of around 2.8 GW. Most of them are operated by ZESCO, the national power utility. Only 25% of the urban population and 3% of rural population, however, currently has access to electricity.

The Zambian government has committed to developing 500 MW of solar PV over the next few years, in order to further reduce power shortages.