Solar gaining traction in Sao Tome and Principe


The government of Sao Tome and Príncipe and Portugal-based Cleanwatts have signed a contract to develop 1.7 MW of solar in the West African island nation. The project will include three solar installations.

Cleanwatts told pv magazine that it started developing 1.1 MW at Sao Tome airport and 300 kWp at Principe airport in August. It expects to complete the arrays by the end of this year. Another 300 kWp will be installed next year at other communities in Sao Tome.

“Like many islands around the world, Sao Tome depends greatly on a stable and affordable supply of energy. What we propose to do in this country is precisely to reduce dependence on imported energy through the production of locally sourced clean energy,” said Michael Pinto, the CEO of Cleanwatts. “We look forward to expanding this project into a second phase and broadening the perimeter of the communities that we serve.”

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The country’s first solar project went online in August. The first phase of the 2 MW installation was built at a diesel power station in the city of Santo Amaro, with a capacity of 540 kWp. The project was backed by an investment of $690,000, funded by the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environment Fund.

According to data from the International Renewably Energy Agency (IRENA), Sao Tome and Principe did not have any grid-connected solar generation capacity installed at the end of 2021. The World Bank says Sao Tome and Principe has an electricity access rate of around 76%, with 92% of the total coming from imported diesel. The government has vowed to increase the proportion of renewable energy from 5% of the energy mix to 50% by 2030.

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