Uganda has launched a $19 Million solar plant, the country’s first grid-connected renewable energy facility, expected to generate clean, sustainable electricity as part of a bid to boost power production.
The plant is located in Soroti in Uganda's Eastern Region, and lies on 33 acres of land. It comprises of 32,680 photovoltaic panels with a total output of 10 to 12 megawatts.
The plant will sell power to the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) backed by a sovereign guarantee from the Government of Uganda.
According to the World Bank, Uganda currently has an 18.2 percent electrification rate, meaning that four out of five Ugandan homes are outside the national grid. The new solar plant has the potential to increase net production capacity by up to 20 megawatts, enough to supply about 40,000 households with power.
The $19 million Soroti plant was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed-in Tariff (GET FiT), a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by Germany’s KfW Development Bank in partnership with Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA). The project is funded in part by the European Union and the governments of Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom.
This new investment comes amid a global stagnation in the amount of money going into renewable energy, which has basically been flat for the past five years. However, there are substantial local and regional differences &– investment in renewables in developed countries has declined about 30% since the 2011 peak, while investment in developing countries has almost doubled.
According to Access Energy Group’s MD Reda El Chaar, renewable energy will augment Africa’s infrastructure and shape a cleaner future. "The limited availability of the grid in Africa plays an important role for the deployment of renewables," El Chaar said. "10 to 50 MW can be effectively plugged into the infrastructure."
Uganda's location close to the Equator means that the country receives abundant solar irradiation, and the Soroti plant is the country's first industrial-scale solar project.
It is hoped that the plant, and others like it that will come online in the near future in Tororo and elsewhere, will address the country’s current electricity shortage and meet growing demand for sustainable, affordable power as part of an ongoing effort to diversify the country’s energy mix, reducing dependence on diesel plants, and overcoming the weather-related fluctuations that affect hydro power generation.