Scatec Solar connects 65 MW to Egyptian grid, proceeds with 33 MW in Mali

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With the sun scorching down over Egypt around this time of the year, Scatec Solar has grid-connected another 65 MW slice of its 400 MW portfolio in the country’s Benban complex. The Norway-based independent power producer now has 130 MW in commercial operation at the site and expects to connect the rest of its planned portfolio to the grid throughout the second half of this year.

In April 2017, Scatec Solar and its partners, KLP Norfund Investments and Africa 50, signed a 25-year PPA with the government of Egypt for six PV plants, with a cumulative capacity of 400 MW. The projects feature bifacial panel technologies in combination with tracker systems. Combining bifacial panels with trackers could potentially boost output by as much as 20%. Tracker manufacturers have grappled with ways to calculate the best possible performance, from the front and the rear, as real-world results to corroborate such claims are rare, but the combination of the two technologies is just starting to be used at scale in the industry.

The aggregate investment in the projects at the Benban complex has been estimated at $450 million, with $50 million to $70 million in equity to come from Scatec Solar. The company is partnering with unnamed local developers and KLP Norfund Investments for additional equity investments in the projects, and a consortium of lenders led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will likely raise another $350 million. Scatec Solar has stated that revenue from the projects over the 25-year contract period has been estimated at $60 million.

More in Mali

Scatec Solar has also managed to move its business forward on the other side of the African continent. In Mali, it recently signed amendments to the 33 MW Segou solar project. The company will build, own and operate the project, in addition to providing engineering, procurement, and construction services. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) will provide additional funding, it said.

“The solar plant will be supplying about 5% of Mali’s electricity, helping economic growth and development in the country”, said Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar.

The project is already set to receive funding from International Finance Corp. (IFC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in the form of non-recourse project finance. This reportedly includes a concessional loan from the Climate Investment Funds under the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program of about $20 million. Scatec Solar will take a 51% stake in the project, with IFC InfraVentures and Africa Power holding the remaining equity.

Scatec Solar signed a power purchase agreement with Electricité du Mali (EDM), the country’s national utility, in July 2015. The project required an investment of about €52 million ($54.8 million) and is part of the $839 million Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP), a funding window under the Climate Investment Funds for the development of renewables in developing countries.