Burundi set to follow Rwanda’s lead with 7.5MW PV power plant

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Gigawatt Global, the solar and social development company responsible for developing Rwanda’s first utility-scale PV power plant, has been awarded two grants to develop a solar project in neighbouring Burundi.

Only 4% of Burundi's population has residential access to electricity. The company hopes that the 7.5MW project will increase the country’s power generation capacity by 15%.

The two grants given to Gigawatt Global from Power Africa via the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP), total around US$1 million.

Gigawatt Global hopes to install the PV plant over 15ha in the Gitega region of Burundi. It is expected to generate electricity for around 60,000 households and cost around US$20 million.

Yosef Abramowitz, president of Gigawatt Global, said: “Our impact investment model is to strengthen developing nations, both economically and environmentally, by providing renewable energy sources where they are most needed. We plan to build 1,000 solar megawatts in Africa by 2020, thereby providing electricity to millions of households and institutions that are currently without the most basic of human needs.”

The grant from USTDA will be used to conduct a feasibility study for the technical and economic aspects of the project, as well as assessing the environmental and social impacts, and help secure the financing with necessary analytics.

Burundi currently only has 52MW of installed electrical capacity, 15.5MW of which is diesel generated.

Come Manirakiza, minister of energy and mines in Burundi, stated: “We embrace the development of renewable energy as a means of increasing Burundi’s electrical generation capacity, thereby stimulating economic growth and providing a range of opportunities for the Burundian people.”

The government of Burundi and Gigawatt Global hope the project will increase jobs and help further the country’s development. Gigawatt Global has partnered with the Polytechnic University of Gitega, NGO’s and the community to create a Corporate Social Responsibility program to help the community grow and learn about renewable energy.

“The Burundi Government’s good will, with the close cooperation and support of the U.S. and Dutch Embassies, has been crucial in advancing the country’s first utility-scale solar energy generation facility that addresses the crippling energy crisis and will directly contribute to the economic growth and stability of Burundi. We believe that this pioneering solar project can be the bellwether for further western investment in Burundi.”

Earlier this year Gigawatt Global and Norwegian firm Scatec Solar completed Rwanda's first utility-scale PV power plant, an 8.5MW grid-connected project that added 6% to country's generation capacity.

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