AfDB, GCF sign deal to repower hydro-reliant Zambia with small-scale solar

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Image caption: UNIDO / Flickr

Deals have now been rubberstamped for Zambia to use small-scale solar to strengthen its climate-vulnerable power supply, in a scheme bankrolled by development financiers.

On Thursday, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) said they have now formalised their support to a plan to deploy 100MW of green energy in the African state, struck by severe drought for the better part of 2019.

Under the so-called Zambia Renewable Energy Financing Framework, set to run for five years, the two institutions will provide US$154 million to support the government as it enacts a feed-in tariff scheme for green energy ventures in the country.

According to programme documents, US$150 million of the total will be senior debt and standby loans for renewable IPP projects, most of which will be small-scale solar. The remaining US$4 million will fund assistance to state and private sector players as they build expertise in the field.

The renewable build-up is meant to help shore up power supply in Zambia, where less than one-in-three citizens is linked to the grid. The country’s reliance on hydro power – the sector accounts for nearly 90% of installed generation capacity – leaves it exposed to climate-driven droughts.

As documented by news outlets worldwide, below-average rainfall during the latest wet season – November to March – has tightened the screws on Zambia’s farmers. In late October, AFP reports warned water shortages have pushed two million Zambians to the “brink of starvation.”

AfDB’s and GCF’s attempts to offset the impacts on power supply via solar come as fellow development financiers, chiefly the World Bank’s Scaling Solar programme, work to boost the utility-scale market via tenders.

So far this year, the programme has produced a 54MW debut – Neoen’s and First Solar’s Bangweulu plant, completed in March – and Enel’s 34MW Ngonye successor, a US$40 million project delivered in April. Both are contracted to supply state-run utility ZESCO via a 25-year PPA.

The various tendering rounds under Scaling Solar and other schemes have driven successive price drops. In 2016, the contracting of Bangweulu at 6.02 US dollar cents/kWh was billed as an Africa-wide record, while a GET FiT auction produced this year an even lower figure of 3.999 cents.

Read Next

December 8, 2021
A US development agency has approved up to US$500 million of debt financing for First Solar to support the manufacturer in setting up a thin film module production plant in India.
November 24, 2021
Italian utility Enel will invest around €70 billion (US$78 billion) by 2030 to scale up its renewables and energy storage portfolio as it brings forward plans to reach net zero to 2040.
November 22, 2021
First Solar is to provide PV project developer Lightsource bp and energy major bp with up to 5.4GW of its thin film modules as part of the manufacturer’s largest supply order to date.
PV Tech Premium
November 9, 2021
Liam Stoker reports from the halls of COP26, where the likes of US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and highlighted the need for an all-encompassing but just and equitable energy transition, and explores the role for solar PV.
November 5, 2021
First Solar is actively exploring future capacity manufacturing locations after recording a surge in demand, both domestically and internationally, amidst supply chain obstacles impacting the PV industry.
September 27, 2021
A new support scheme from India’s government to boost the domestic manufacture of PV modules has seen 18 bidders submit 54.8GW of applications, according to consultancy JMK Research & Analytics.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
January 26, 2022
Free Webinar
Solar Media Events
February 23, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
March 8, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
March 23, 2022
Austin, Texas, USA
Solar Media Events
March 29, 2022
Lisbon, Portugal