Enel Green Power’s 1st Zambia PV Project Begins Operation

The 34-megawatt solar facility, located in southern Zambia, will sell its energy to the country’s state-owned utility ZESCO through a 25-year PPA.
Image via Pixabay

Enel Green Power, Enel Group’s global business line dedicated to renewable energy, has started commercial operations at the 34-megawatt Ngonye solar photovoltaic plant in Zambia. It took EGP nine months to finalize construction.

The solar facility is the Group’s first power plant in Zambia and the second one in the country—the first one is a 54-megawatt project in Bangweulu developed by the French-American independent power producer consortium Neoen and First Solar. Enel’s photovoltaic project is located in Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone and is part of the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar program carried out by Zambia’s Industrial Development Corp. IDC awarded EGP in June 2016 the right to develop, finance, construct, own and operate the plant. The Ngonye solar plant is owned by a special purpose vehicle 80 percent held by EGP and 20 percent by IDC and the energy it produces will go to the country’s state-owned utility ZESCO through a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Financing details

The Enel Group invested some $40 million in the plant’s construction. In June last year, Enel signed a financing agreement with IDC of $34 million, involving senior loans of up to $10 million from the International Financing Corp.—a member of the World Bank Group—up to $12 million from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program and nearly $12 million from the European Investment Bank.

Zambia’s energy generation mix is currently dominated by hydro and is in dire need to diversify and extend electrification to rural areas. The country’s government has launched a series of initiatives to promote the development of renewables, focusing particularly on photovoltaic power, with the goal of installing up to 600 megawatts of solar power within the next three years. Within this framework, IDC launched a tender for the development of two photovoltaic projects with a total capacity of up to 100 megawatts structured according to the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar program, with the International Finance Corp. acting as advisor.

Enel Green Power is Africa’s largest independent renewable energy player in terms of installed megawatts. Enel is investing nearly $785 million in the continent, building 900 megawatts of wind and solar capacity over its 2019-2021 strategic plan. In addition to the operations in Zambia, the Group is also active in South Africa where it has more than 500 megawatts in operation and more than 700 megawatts in execution. Another 100 megawatts of solar capacity is underway in Ethiopia and 180 megawatts of wind capacity in Morocco, out of a total of 850 megawatts awarded in the country.