The European Union’s Electrification Financing Initiative and the United Kingdom’s Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) have each committed €4.4 million ($4.9 million) in a project-financing vehicle managed by OnePower (1PWR) to build mini-grids in Lesotho. The project enterprise, Sotho Minigrid Portfolio SPV, would seek equity and financial investments to build 11 mini-grids with a total capacity of 1.8MW in Lesotho. For the first time, the mini-grids will give power to 20,000 people as well as green energy to seven health facilities.
Lesotho, a landlocked African country, boasts one of the continent’s lowest electricity costs. Around 62% of the population does not have access to power, and just around 20% of rural regions are electrified. The mini-grids in Lesotho are expected to add around 7,300 additional connections and generate up to 3,480MW per year when fully operational. This would result in an annual CO2 reduction of around 2,780 tons. 1PWR will employ around 100 locals throughout the project’s development, with six permanent roles maintained throughout operations.
1PWR’s Plans for Minigrids in Lesotho
1PWR’s solar-battery energy systems will benefit from a variety of technological advancements, including PV trackers created and produced in Sub-Saharan Africa. To facilitate speedy development and deployment of generation systems, the business will install smart meters intended for local and off-grid settings, as well as pre-built powerhouses. 1PWR has optimized its financial modelling and mini-grid building progress with the help of the European initiative GET.invest, allowing for a $0.33/kWh pricing. In local money, this amounts to LSL5 per kWh, a price that is virtually cost-reflective while being competitive by local standards.
The 1PWR project has previously been funded by EDFI ElectriFI and REPP (administered by Camco Clean Energy). EDFI Electrifi received a €0.1 million ($113,262) development financing loan from 1PWR in 2018, allowing the company to conduct a feasibility study that established the groundwork for its current mini-grids portfolio. REPP loaned 1PWR LSL7 million ($450,000) in 2019 to help establish the country’s first solar-battery mini-grids.
Two years ago, a REPP funding enabled 1PWR to progress its ambitions of developing the first solar mini-grids in Lesotho and having a revolutionary impact on the poor community of Ha Makebe. According to Geoff Sinclair, Managing Director of Camco Clean Energy, it has been tremendously rewarding to witness the successful completion of those mini-grids, and there is a huge buzz of enthusiasm to now be supporting this next and much larger component of the project.