First PPA-linked solar power park planned for Zambia

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GreenCo Power is seeking independent power producers (IPPs) for a pilot solar power park project with a capacity ranging from 10 to 40MW in Zambia. The company has already launched the qualification stage of the procurement process, which will be followed by a request for proposals. Interested IPPs have until March 21st, 2021 to apply.

According to a statement from GreenCo, the pilot project will generate up to 80GWh of power per year, which will be allocated to a mix of large consumers and utilities in Zambia, and regional competitive markets. “The pilot project is likely to be the first project in Zambia to take advantage of the new open-access regime introduced by the government of Zambia under the Electricity Act 2019 and the Energy Regulation Act 2019,” added the statement.

These new rules made it easier for IPPs to operate in the Zambian energy market. Under the previous regulatory framework, only the country’s state-owned utility, Zesco, was allowed to sell power to final consumers. The solar plant will sell power to Greenco under a long-term power purchase agreement. Interested IPPs will have time until March 21 to submit their requests for qualification.

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Renewable energy potential in Zambia

According to GET.invest, renewable energy sources are abundant in Zambia. Small and large hydropower is the major contributor to the country’s electricity supply and will be further developed over the next decades, given its high technical potential. Nevertheless, high solar irradiation values promise strong potential for the development of solar PV-based generation. With declining technology costs, there is potential for expansion of solar PV, recently evidenced by the IFC’s Scaling Solar program and SIDA’s Beyond the Grid Fund.

Solar Potential

The country has an average 2,000-3,000 hours of sunshine per year. Average irradiation is 5.5 kWh/m2/day, with northern areas recording the highest global solar irradiation, of 2,300 kWh/m2/year.