Equity investment to back 150 MW of commercial solar in Africa


Empower New Energy plans to spend at least $100 million over the next three years to install more than 150 MW of solar and battery systems for more than 50 African businesses.

The Oslo-based commercial and industrial (C&I) solar-leasing business raised $74 million from equity investors last week in a deal announced at the Africa Renewables Investment Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, according to a report published by the Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA). The AFSIA article said that Empower New Energy will top up the equity fundraising with loans to expand its operations.

Empower New Energy bundles solar projects across Africa to reduce risk before selling them on further down the line. The developer installs and maintains solar and batteries for business clients who benefit from lower electricity prices.

Climate Fund Managers (CFM), which led the equity investment in Empower is a joint venture between Dutch development lender the FMO (Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden) and the Sanlam Infraworks unit of South Africa's Sanlam Group.

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Empower New Energy has installed 5.5 MW of solar capacity for African C&I clients across eight projects in Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria since its first, $7.9 million funding round in 2019. Its initial investors were EU energy access body Edfi Electrifi, Norfund, and a dozen private investors. The company has also reportedly signed contracts for a $30 million, 150 MW development pipeline of projects in Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Empower  New Energy's investment platform was developed with the help of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa which is managed by the African Development Bank and financed by the governments of Denmark, Italy, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

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