Seychelles firms up 4 MW floating PV project

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Africa’s first utility scale, private sector financed floating PV project is entering its next project phase. The plant will be in the Lagoon le Rocher, a shallow body of water separated from the sea by the Providence Industrial Estate on Mahé Island, 4 km from Seychelles International Airport. The site is expected to have a capacity of 3.5-4 MW.

This month a request for technical and financial documentation for realization of the project was issued to a pre qualified group of potential bidders. Last week the Seychelles government held a meeting with the bidders at the project site to brief them in more detail about the location.

The bidders are Building Energy South Africa Ltd, Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios SA, Générale du Solaire, Total Eren, GreenYellow SAS, Voltas Ecobiotech Ltd, Masdar, Quadran (Seychelles) Ltd, Vetiver Tech, Scatec Solar ASA, Solar Philippines and Corex Solar.

The project is being implemented by the Seychelles government and the Public Utilities Corporation with the support of the African Legal Support Facility and the Clinton Foundation. Trinity International LLP and Multiconsult Norge AS are transaction and tender advisers.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s non-profit Clinton Foundation said a request for proposals had been issued to pre qualified bidders and joint ventures. The group had been selected last year as part of the first phase of the project procurement process.

Opening the floodgates

The Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and the nation’s Energy Commission launched the scheme. “Bidders are required to submit their full technical and financial proposals in September 2019, with an expected tender award in November 2019,” stated the announcement. “Construction is expected to start soon thereafter with the project becoming operational in 2020.”

The winning bidders will finance, design, build, own and operate the plant and the electricity will be sold to the Public Utilities Corporation at a fixed tariff under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

“We, at the Clinton Climate Initiative, are thrilled to support this innovative project which represents a groundbreaking step forward for island nations and other regions with limited land available for solar development,” said Fiona Wilson, senior regional manager at the Clinton Climate Initiative division of the eponymous foundation. “Floating solar photovoltaic energy holds immense potential for islands, and our partners in Seychelles are demonstrating true leadership in addressing the global climate and energy crisis.”

The first large scale floating installation could open the floodgates for the technology in Africa. Floating solar’s potential, as calculated by the World Bank, is impressive and numerous companies are working to optimize the technology.

Collocation with hydropower dams is an approach likely to be popular as the necessary grid connection and power electronics are already present. Deploying floating PV on just 10% of the continent’s water surfaces would result in more than 1 TW of solar generation capacity.