The government of Eritrea has received a $49.92 million grant from the African Development Bank to fund a 30 MW photovoltaic plant in the town of Dekemhare, 40 km southeast of the capital Asmara. It will be the country's first large-scale solar plant.
The project includes a 15 MW/30 MWh battery energy storage system, a 33/66 kV substation, and a 66 kV transmission line connected to the existing transmission line between East Asmara and Dekemhare, located about 1 km from the project site.
Financed through the African Development Fund, the PV plant and battery backup system is expected to increase generation capacity and grid energy to 185 MW and 365 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually.
The project is seen as instrumental in reducing Eritrea’s power deficit, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing the cost of electricity generation to $0.185/kWh. It is also expected to increase the share of renewable energy in the grid’s energy mix from 3% to 23%, creating temporary jobs during project implementation and long-term jobs after project completion.
“The project outcomes will boost socio-economic development that has suffered from massive and prolonged load shedding and consequently improve the quality of life of the people of Eritrea,” the bank stated.
It added that part of the grant will also be allocated to technical assistance and capacity building to improve the operational performance of the grid and the overall development of the Eritrean power sector. Technical studies for large-scale renewable energy projects are also planned to respond to electricity demand within the Eritrea Electricity Corporation (EEC) network’s interconnected system.
“Eritrea experiences inadequate, unreliable, expensive, and polluting electricity supply,” the bank noted. “The available capacity is 35 MW for a peak demand of about 70 MW. Consequently, frequent load-shedding periods affect businesses and the population.”
The project’s funding includes $19.5 million from the African Development Fund and $30.42 million from the bank’s Transition Support Facility (TSF).
According to the latest International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Eritrea's estimated cumulative solar capacity stood at 10.807 MW in 2022.
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