PROJECT ROUND-UP: Obton to build in Sweden, new solar and storage in Senegal and Cubico’s Uruguay acquisition

Obton’s Ganzlin’s solar project in Germany has been in operation since 2020. Image: Obton

In the last two weeks, new solar projects, or deals involving existing facilities, have been struck in Sweden, Senegal and Uruguay.

While none of these projects boast a particularly large capacity, the expansion of the solar sector in these countries – through Obton’s first 15MWp farm in Sweden, the West African Development Bank funding Teranga Niakhar Storage’s 30MW storage and solar plant in Senegal and Cubico’s acquisition of the 26MW Alto Cielo solar plant in Uruguay – are important developments for regions which have not historically dominated the global solar sector.

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Obton receives approval for its first Swedish project

25 September 2023: Danish investment bank Obton has received approval to build its first solar project in Sweden, a 15MWp facility to be built south-west of Stockholm. While the company did not announce which companies would be involved in engineering, procurement and construction, it noted that the project will enter the ready-to-build stage of development in June 2024, and move into commercial operation at the end of 2025.

The remainder of Obton’s investment portfolio consists of three projects in Denmark, with a combined capacity of 1.7GW. The company has invested consistently in field installations, as opposed to rooftop or distributed solar, noting that such projects deliver “the most green energy measured in relation to the effort”, and has continued this approach for its new Swedish project.

“We are already analysing several solar and battery storage projects in Sweden,” said senior business developer Kenneth F Kolvits, speaking about the company’s potential work in Sweden. “In terms of the great experience that our Swedish partner has both from Sweden and a number of other countries worldwide, we are really strong in relation to realising our ambitions in Sweden.”

West African Development Bank funds new solar-plus-storage plant in Senegal

20 September 2023: The West African Development Bank (BOAD) has committed a loan of XOF15 billion (US$24.2 million) to Teranga Niakhar Storage (TNS) to build a 30MW solar power plant in Senegal, with a linked 15MW/45MWh battery storage system.

The company, a subsidiary of Energy Resources Senegal (ERS), will build the project on a 59-hectare area in the Fatik region of western Senegal. While neither BOAD nor TNS announced how much money would be paid back, or over what period of time, the company is eager about the future of the project.

The company noted that the project’s battery storage system will be built by Omexom, a subsidiary of French energy and construction company Vinci, and power generated at the project will be sold to SENELEC, the country’s state-owned power utility.

The project is the latest project in Senegal’s growing solar sector, which had an installed capacity of 238MW in 2021, and has grown year-on-year since. Figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency show that the country added 23MW of new capacity in 2022, and between 2020 and 2022, the role of solar in the country’s renewable energy supply increased from 2% to 59% of total renewable capacity.

The news follows Senegal’s arrangement with the EU, among other countries, to receive US$2.71 billion for new renewable financing, which was signed in June this year.

Cubico acquires 26MW solar project in Uruguay

25 September 2023: London-headquartered renewable energy financier Cubico Sustainable Investments has purchased the operational Alto Cielo solar farm in northern Uruguay from Canadian asset manager Brookfield.

Cubico acquired the project, which has a capacity of 26MW and has been in commercial operation since 2016, alongside two wind farms, with a combined capacity of 95MW, pushing the total power capacity of renewable projects involved in the deal above 100MW. Uruguay’s installed solar capacity has increased dramatically in recent years, from 2.69MW in 2014 to 258MW in 2020 and 261.7MW in 2021, and the deal is Cubico’s first involvement in the growing sector.

“This is another important milestone for Cubico, significantly strengthening our position as the largest private owner of renewables in Uruguay and one of the largest in the world,” said Javier Pérez del Castillo, Cubico country manager for Uruguay. “Through this acquisition, we are very pleased to have diversified our Uruguayan asset base and expanded our local team, enhancing our technical and financial capabilities.”

The news follows Uruguay’s commitment to installing new renewable capacity, announced last June. While the new projects are primarily intended to support the establishment of a green hydrogen sector, the government is targeting the installation of 20GW of new renewable capacity, which will be of benefit to the solar sector.

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