Madagascar wants more solar

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Madagascar’s Ministry of Energy, Water and Hydrocarbons has announced on its Twitter account three solar projects will be built in the country this year.

More details were given on the ministry’s Facebook page, which stated: “Two solar power plants for the Analamanga region and one for the Vakinankaratra region will be set up this year. They will each produce 5 MW. The memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Water and Hydrocarbon Energy and Tryba Energy.”

According to local media outlet Africa Panorama, the three projects are the first of a 50 MW portfolio Tryba intends to build in Madagascar. “Initally, 15 MW will be built in nine months,” stated a quote attributed to Tryba representative Henry Quere by the Malagasy website. “The resulting production will be sold to local utility Jirama,” added Quere. “The signed MoU sets the selling price.”

With the three confirmed projects, the installed solar capacity of the country would increase by almost half.

According to the latest statistics published by the International Renewable Energy Agency, Madagascar had amassed 33 MW of installed PV generation capacity at the end of 2018, with around 20 MW of that added last year. Those 20 MW came in the form of a single park built by French company Green Yellow in Ambohipihaonana, in the Ambatolampy district of the Vakinankaratra region in the Central Highlands. Construction of the 20 MW project started at the end of 2016 and the €25 million installation provides electricity to public utility Jirama under a long-term power purchase agreement. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in November 2017.

Costly power

The Ambohipihaonana project aims to reduce the cost of electricity in the region, which is around MGA480/kWh ($0.13). Most of Madagascar’s generation capacity consists of thermal power stations (406 MW) and hydroelectric plants (162 MW).

“The construction of solar power plants will develop because they answer the crucial questions of the cost of production, the improvement of the access of the population to … electricity and … protection of the environment,” said former president Hery Rajaonarimampianina upon commissioning of the Ambohipihaonana project.

Around 22.9% of the Madagascan population had access to electricity in 2016. The World Bank is supporting the nation’s solar projects under its Scaling Solar initiative.