Three solar power stations totalling 300MW will be built and operated in Ethiopia by two US companies, Global Trade and Development Consulting (GTDC) and Energy Ventures.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy and directors at the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation awarded the two Maryland companies the contracts for the three photovoltaic (PV) plants, each 100MW capacity in size.

The three projects in Ethiopia, located in the eastern region of the country, were site selected and due diligence performed before receiving technical and financial approval from the two Ethiopian government bodies.

The thee 100MW facilities, referred to collectively as the 300MW Solar Project, will create around 2,000 construction jobs. According to Energy Ventures, the project will inject “several million dollars into the Ethiopian economy”. The company claims that ongoing operations will also contribute several hundred jobs.

GTDC, which describes its company objectives as helping to “integrate the emerging and frontier markets to the global economy by promoting trade, creating relationships and transferring knowledge”, appointed Energy Ventures as project development partner. In addition to its US headquarters, GTDC has offices in Italy, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and South Sudan. Similarly, Energy Ventures was created to “specifically address the utility-scale energy needs of developing nations around the world”. Along with megawatt scale solar projects, Energy Ventures is also involved with areas including utility microgrids and advanced biofuels.

Ethiopian water and energy minister Alemayehu Tegenu said: "This project represents a significant advance in our Ethiopian energy initiative and is now part of our comprehensive Energy Plan. Given Ethiopia's large hydro-electric generation capacity and now wind and geothermal power generation coming on-line, large scale solar fits nicely into our energy portfolio and will provide significant power generation capacity much faster than the other renewable technologies. We welcome this project with open arms."

Included in US president Barack Obama’s ‘Power Africa’ initiative to improve access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, renewable energy generation capacity installed in the east African country has to date mostly consisted of hydro-electric, wind and geothermal power. In January of this year Ethiopia celebrated the first ever solar panels to be made in the country.