Ethiopia could see construction of 300MW of PV across a number of government projects going ahead in just over six months, after the country’s public utility signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a US-headquartered developer.

The utility, Ethiopian Electric Power, signed the provisional agreement with Green Technology Africa, a company based in the US Commonwealth of Virginia. GTA said it had identified three regions in Ethiopia that have good potential for solar, based on localised high energy demand and good solar resources. Dessie, Komboltcha and Dire Dawa, the three regions, all have 115kV and 230kV transmission lines suitable for interconnection of plants.

Having travelled to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to sign the MoU with EEP, GTA told PV Tech the company is now authorised to perform a full feasibility study of the three areas. According to GTA president Dereje Mesfin, it is likely the 300MW will consist of “several” projects. Dire Dawa, he said, has between 220 hectares and 240 hectares of land suitable to host a potential 100MW of solar as well as a suitable 132kV transmission line. Komboltcha and Dessie both have a similar amount of land available and are close enough to transmission lines or substations to be suitable for interconnection, Mesfin said.

The GTA president added that other potential sites could also be identified during the course of feasibility studies. Mesfin said that once feasibility studies are completed, construction could begin after a six month period of project development. Project execution would then take around two years to complete in full. According to GTA, its main responsibilities will include facilitating financing, conducting technical, environmental and real estate assessments and managing the projects.  

Mesfin said that from its pre-feasibility studies so far, GTA has “concluded that solar will play a major role in meeting Ethiopia's growing power needs as well as the creation of new jobs from related construction and operations activities of these projects”.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that, driven in part by proposals for large PV projects in countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana, renewable energy could represent as much as 44% of all power generation in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2040.