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Namibia: Solar Plant Opens At Omaruru

Omburu Solar PV Park - a solar plant by French and Namibian investors - was opened on Wednesday at Omaruru in the Erongo region.Managing director of NamPower, Paulinus Shilamba said the plant by Innosun Energy Holdings is the first independent power producer (IPP) to set up a photovoltaic power plant in Namibia. Innosun was formed in 2008, with Black Diamond Investment as a local shareholder."The 4,5 MW solar power plant is a clear testimony of the fact that IPPs can work in Namibia and NamPower is more than willing to support and enter into power purchase agreements with IPPs," he said.The power from the plant will be sold to Nampower under an agreement to last 25 years."Even on a small scale, the 4,5 MW Omburu Solar Pv plant will relieve the pressure from the national electricity grid," he said.He said the plant was a positive step in realising the aim of generating 10% of installed generation capacity from renewable energy as per the country's renewable energy policy.

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Zimbabwe: Byo West Electrification Project Launched

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings last week launched a US$10m Bulawayo West electrification programme which has so far seen the electrification of 700 houses in Emganwini and Mbundane suburbs in the country's second largest city at a cost of over US$400 000.Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution and Transmission Company (ZETDC) has already started constructing an 88/11KV bulk supply substation to cater for those suburbs, with the electrification project being carried out in phases over the next three years."It has not been possible for the utility to provide electricity infrastructure to new residential projects timely," said Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, while commissioning the project."This situation is quite retrogressive as it inhibits socio-economic growth and gives families hard times as they seek alternative sources of energy for basic needs such as cooking and lighting."Over 100 000 households in urban areas across Zimbabwe have no access to electricity owing to unavailability of infrastructure."I therefore urge local indigenous companies to take part in these electrification projects," said Mphoko.

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The startup that's powering rural Africa with affordable, smart microgrids

The startup that's powering rural Africa with affordable, smart microgridsPowerhive offers hardware and software for smarter microgrids, and is successfully providing villages all over Kenya with solar electricity, battery storage, and real-time response. More than a century after the lightbulb was invented, 1.3 billion people worldwide or 18% of the global population and 22% of those living in developing countries still lack access to electricity. About 97% of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia,according to the International Energy Agency's 2014 World Energy Outlook report.It's a sad statistic, but it presents a huge opportunity for renewable energy especially in Africa and Asia. The price of solar panels has decreased, battery storage is well on its way to being affordable, technology is getting smarter, and we are all becoming more connected to one another and the devices that power our lives.Microgrids, which are small scale, efficient energy grids, incorporate all of those innovations, and they can be a key solution to one of the world's biggest problems.

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Africa: Key Africa Power Summit Opens in Cape Town

Thousands of attendees from around the globe have converged in South Africa for the annual African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa to explore measures of securing the future development of the continent’s power and water industries.The event, said to be the biggest such gathering in the sectors in the continent, has resumed at the Cape Town International Conference Centre, where it will run until Thursday.Scheduled to attract some 5 000 attendees, the event will feature 250 exhibitors, 190 speakers, eight conferences, free technical as well as three high-profile plenary sessions.An awards dinner scheduled for Wednesday evening is among the highlights of the 15th edition of the African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa as is the Utility CEO Forum that executives from countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe will attend.According to organisers, it is the only African forum where C-level executives from Africa's leading utilities come together to discuss pressing topics within the industry and to accelerate cross-border collaboration, development plans and the advancement of regional centres of excellence throughout Africa.

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Nigeria: FG - 10MW Katsina Wind-Powered Plant for Commissioning in June

The 10 megawatts (mw) Katsina State wind-powered plant is currently at 98 percent completion level and it will be ready for commissioning in June, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Amb. Godknows Igali, has said.Igali, speaking in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, said that the test running of the facility has since begun, with five out of the thirty-seven turbines successfully operated.Igali said that government was committed to ensuring the smooth running of this pilot scheme, adding that plans were afoot to replicate it in the Northern region where wind velocity is high.He said that the harnessing of wind resource was an integral part of the newly approved national policy on sustainable energy and energy efficiency.It would be recalled that the delay experienced in the completion of the Katsina Wind-Power Project was occasioned by the ugly incident of kidnapping of a France national who was in-charge of the project and the need to subsequently engage another French company to complete the project.He explained that the wind-farm was only one component of the renewable energy programme of the federal government.

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Kenya Power bags $10m for power infrastructure upgrades

In East Africa, publicly listed electric utility Kenya Power has secured a $10 million loan from United Bank for Africa, Kenya, as part of a five-year syndicated agreement to finance energy infrastructure in the country.Kenya Power’s CEO Dr Ben Chumo said the funds will propel the upgrading of power infrastructure forward, including planned electricity projects set out for various parts of the country, local media report.Chumo said: “Timely completion of these capital intensive projects is critical in ensuring long-term viability of Kenya Power business as well as in making the country an attractive investment destination."The utility intends to refurbish aged transmission lines with ones that have a larger capacity, upgrade its existing substations, build 37 new substations, and install new equipment on the power grid.The work forms part of Kenya’s plan to add an additional 5,000MW to the grid by 2017, said Isaac Mwige, managing director of United Bank for Africa, commenting on the approval of the loan.

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Nigerian Government approves draft policy on renewable energy

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the draft of National Policy on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for the country.The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, told journalists after the weekly meeting of the FEC on Wednesday in Abuja that the country was blessed with hydro, solar, wind and other sources of energy, hence the need for a policy for renewable energy.He explained that the policy would promote increased access to electricity by Nigerians and improve energy mix as well as energy security.According to him, the policy will promote energy efficiency, promote clean environment as well as create jobs for the nation’s teeming youths.

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Africa: Renewables Gaining Ground

"A key feature of 2014 was the continuing spread of renewable energy to new markets. Investment in developing countries, at $131.3 billion, was up 36% on the previous year and came the closest ever to overhauling the total for developed economies, at $138.9 billion, up just 3% on the year. Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey were all in the billion-dollar-plus club in 2014 in terms of investment in renewables." - UNEP / Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from two recent reports, one on Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, from UNEP and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and the other from Carbon Tracker Initiative, laying out the economic imperative even for fossil-fuel companies themselves to begin a transition to less carbon-intensive investments or risk enormous losses in "stranded assets."These rapidly accelerating trends are affecting the relative costs of fossil-fuel and renewable energy, both globally and in Africa, with renewables gaining ground despite the current predominance of the fossil-fuel industry.

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Egypt signs MoUs worth $500m under feed in tariff programme

In North Africa, Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy last week signed seven Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) under the government’s feed in tariff (FIT) scheme for the generation of 320MW from solar and wind projects.The MoUs, with an estimated value of $500 million, were signed with five companies from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the generation of 220MW of solar and 100W of wind.All seven projects are located on government land, with solar projects to be located in Binban in the Ar Riyāḑ Province in Saudi Arabia and Aswan, a city in the South of Egypt. The wind farms will be developed in Zafarana on the Gulf of Suez.The agreements were signed last week at the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) Trade Mission in Cairo where an estimated 150 international and local key energy stakeholders were in attendance.

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Rural electrification: US joint venture to deliver off-grid power

California-based power technology venture Powerhive announced that its off-grid metering and control solutions division has completed two years of field testing in Kenya, East Africa.With plans to expand its coverage to over 200,000 households in Kenya, Powerhive has leveraged four pilot projects to determine the effectiveness of micro-grid deployments in areas that do not have direct access to conventional electricity, such as Kisii Province where 90% of the population live off grid.The pilot deployments have generated a total of 80kW, which has provided electricity to 1,500 people across four rural villages.The increase in power supply has enabled the community to begin entrepreneurial activities such as maize milling, welding, incubating chickens and hair styling, according to Powerhive,Christopher Hornor, CEO of Powerhive, commented: “Powerhive’s technology and data-driven approach to micro-grid development and operations will enable the formation of a new asset class. It will enable us to cost-effectively reach tens of millions of people in rural villages unserved by grids while offering strong risk-weighted returns to investors."

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Mozambique to Further Promote Renewable Energy

Mozambique is to receive a grant of 740,000 US dollars to pay for technical assistance to develop a feed-in tariff system for small and medium sized renewable energy projects.According a press release from the African Development Bank (ADB), the grant will come from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), a body set up with funds from the governments of Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom, and hosted and managed by the ADB.Under the scheme, the government will set up standardised power purchase agreements, procedures for grid connectivity and investor guidelines for prospective developers.SEFA Coordinator Joao Duarte Cunha stated, “this SEFA project will play a key role in unlocking investments in small-scale renewables, particularly in rural areas where needs are greatest. This will certainly improve energy access for households and businesses while reducing dependence from large-scale hydro and upcoming coal and gas projects”.

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EU-private sector fund to invest $60m in off-grid sub-Saharan Africa

The European Union has announced that it will partner with Paris-based private equity firm Astor Capital Partners to invest in small energy companies across sub-Saharan Africa.The EU-backed Electricity Access Ventures Fund, which will be directed by Astor Capital Partners, will invest an estimated $60 million in 20 small businesses over a five-year period, the EU Observer reported.The fund, which is sponsored by Schneider Electric, will make equity investments in small and medium-sized businesses focused on supplying power and related services through power generation systems such as solar home devices and micro-generation infrastructures - generally off-grid, energy distribution, the newspaper explained.The Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank, which relies on capital paid in by the EU’s 28 governments, will boost the fund’s capital by $10.87 million for projects aimed at providing electricity access to 1 million people. Investment opportunity is seen in small emerging businesses in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and eventually west Africa.Other investors include the French development agency and UK-based Commonwealth Development Corporation.

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Ethiopia: Fentalle to Benefit From Hydroelectric Power Technology

A project that aimed at enhancing local electric power capacity by using small hydro power plant at Fentalle irrigation scheme has almost seen completion of preparation to install the 1st ULH-MHP (Ultra-Low Head Micro Hydroelectric power Technology) at Enkule Village.Speaking at the handing over ceremony, UNIDO Energy and Climate Change Branch Director, Dr. Pradeep Monga, said that the project is part of UNIDO initiative at the regional as well as global level to promote access to renewable energy.According to him, upon completion the project will have a positive impact on social and economic life of the community. The technology is applied to bring about sustainable development by promoting agro-industrial development and create value chain with other sectors," he said.Rural electrification is one of the targets of UNIDO. In this regard, the project is expected to support Ethiopian rural electrification effort, he added. On his part, UNIDO Regional Director, Jean B. Bakole, said that the mini hydroplant is part of UNIDO mission to support Ethiopian endeavour to Growth and Transformation Plan.

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Solar power: China-Kenya training centre launches in Nairobi

In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Chinese and Kenyan investors have launched a technology transfer and training centre to promote the assembly of solar power lighting systems to meet the growing demand for green energy technology in the East African country.The China-Kenya Solid State Lighting Technology Transfer Centre, based in an industrial park near Nairobi, is set to spur the growth of a home-grown solar industry in the country, reported Taiwan-based news portal Want China Times.“Our partnership with a Chinese firm will facilitate the establishment of a local assembly plant for solar products. The new centre will expose Kenyan technicians to the latest solar solutions,” said Maina Maringa, director at Sunyale Africa, which launched the centre in partnership with a Beijing-based company.

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Namibia: Huge Potential in Funding Power Projects

Development Bank of Namibia CEO Martin Inkumbi said this week that the current prospects for electricity in Namibia, and in the Southern African Development Community Power Pool indicate that new challenges and opportunities are emerging.He said in addition to the estimated current 224 MW shortfall in local generation capacity, rising to an estimated 250 MW shortfall after August 2016, there is an obvious opportunity to contribute to the stability of the SADC region through development of excess generation capacity.Early this month, NamPower managing director Paulinus Shilamba announced an array of local generation initiatives.Inkumbi said the opportunities will be harnessed with direct strategic intervention, through development of new infrastructure, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and Demand Side Management (DSM).Among the projects are the 250 MW Erongo power station, the rehabilitation of the Van Eck power station in Windhoek, the rehabilitation of Ruacana, development of the Baynes hydropower scheme in 2024, commissioning of 30 MW of solar generation capacity, and acquisition of 70 MW of electricity generated from renewable resources, by independent power producers (IPPs)."Parallel to this, the DSM is expecting to create more economical usage for households, and expansion of transmission capacity are also envisaged," he said.

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France ramps up investment into Uganda energy sector to $55m

French international development agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has committed to more than double its funding into the Ugandan energy sector.AFD’s country representative Virginie Leroy said the institution is allocating $55 million to Uganda’s electrification project, up from $21 million in the period to 2013. Leroy said: “As a development agency, we have a specific interest in improving people’s access to the grid. The rate of access in Uganda is one of the lowest in East Africa and within Africa, especially in rural areas.”“As you know, when people get electricity, they won’t cut forests. This question of access to energy is really linked to climate issues. Since the population [in Uganda] keeps on growing, we decided in 2014 to commit jointly with KFW [a German development bank] $48 million to build the Muzizi hydro power plant,” Leroy added.The Observer reported that financial data captured in the AFD 2014 report, from 2009 to 2013, totalled $139 million, which was largely allocated to the water and sanitation sector.

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Rural electrification: 500 Kenyan Schools connect to grid

In Kenya, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has connected 500 public primary schools in Siaya county to the national electricity grid as part of achieving the government’s vision of electrifying all primary schools by 2030.REA chief manager Ephantus Kamweru said that the authority will commission the $4 million project in Akom Primary School, Rarieda, on Saturday, the Star reported on Monday.According to Kamweru, out of the total 659 public primary schools in Siaya, 569 have already been connected to the national electricity grid.The Star reported that the installation work for the remaining 90 primary schools was underway.Kamweru added that power has also been distributed to various trading centres, health facilities and water supply systems, to facilitate the 2030 vision.“As we electrify all public schools and health facilities we also intend to cut installation costs by bringing closer electricity poles to the community,” Kamweru said.

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Geothermal energy: New online tool maps geo potential

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have launched a free online tool to help project developers explore the potential of geothermal sites around the world.According to IRENA, the new technique uses Global Bouguer and Free Air Gravity Anomaly Maps, which enable users to gauge geothermal potential at minimum risk and reduced cost.Henning Wuester, director of IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre, said: “These maps can help make a strong business case for geothermal development where none existed before.”“In doing so, the tool provides a short-cut for lengthy and costly explorations and unlocks the potential of geothermal energy as a reliable and clean contribution to the world’s energy mix”, Wuester added.

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Ethiopia: Electric Power Projects Create About 50,000 Jobs

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) disclosed that the electric power generation projects under construction have created close to 50,000 permanent and temporary jobs. The EEP also said these projects that would increase the power supply of the country fivefold and were contributing to skill and knowledge transfer. They would increase the electric generation capability of the country from the current 2,268 MW to 10,000 MW.The EEP External Relations Head, Mesikir Negash said that the jobs were created under the programs for rural electrification, electric generation, and transmission and distribution stations. 8,500 of the jobs were created in relation to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam; Gilgel Gibe III created 6,500 jobs, and the Genale Dawa Dam another 1,100 jobs. Another 22,000 jobs came from the rural electrification program. The Head of EEP external relations also revealed that the performance of the projects currently ranged from the 42% completion of the GERD, to 90% with Gilgel Gibe III in the final stage of completion and ready to start generating power during the coming Ethiopian rainy season.

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Egypt secures $28m for transformer power station

The Egyptian Electricity Ministry signed a $28 million deal to construct a transformer power station in the Suez Canal region.The project aims to support the country’s increased power demand during the summer months, said Ahmed Hanafi, head of the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company.The transformer project will be funded by the European Union’s European Investment bank.In February 2015, government approved a new law privatising the electricity production, transmission and distribution sectors, which reduces the state’s role in the power sector. The unbundled entities will be seen as independent from each other to ensure a competitive market.In addition to the restructuring of the electricity sector, government secured deals earlier in the year to integrate nuclear, wind, solar and coal into the country’s energy mix while in the process of finalising a 10-year plan that will see an additional 70GW added to the country’s electricity grid. The breakdown includes 8GW from coal and an additional 8GW from renewable energy sources.

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South Africa: Green electricity for green tea

The tea producer Rooibos Ltd. has expanded the capacity of the PV system on its warehouses in Clanwilliam, South Africa, to 1 MW. According to SolarWorld AG, almost 1,900 new modules will provide the company with energy self-sufficiency. Rooibos Ltd. can now cover its electricity needs almost entirely using solar energy, according to SolarWorld. By using self-generated energy rather than external sources, more than 150,000 tonnes of CO2 can be saved per year. The company did not issue any information on the economic potential of using its own energy. The company is emphasising the small CO2footprint as well as the green image of its products instead

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South Africa’s Kathu solar thermal park ‘progressing well

The Kathu solar thermal park in the Northern Cape which is part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme (REIPPP) with an estimated investment over $533 million, will have a generation capacity of 100MW.Equipped with parabolic troughs and a thermal energy storage capacity of 4.5 hours, the plant is set to begin operation in 2018, with the ability to generate enough power to electrify 80,000 households. The EPC contractors – Acciona and Sener – will use local suppliers, as the project is fully committed to contributing to the local community, Acciona said in a statement.


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UN Aids Local Solar Manufacturing in Egypt

In a welcome bid to promote solar energy use in Egypt’s industrial sector, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has initiated a project to boost local solar manufacturing capacity in Egypt.Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN-backed project will support the local manufacturing of solar energy systems and components for use in Egyptian chemical, agro-food, and textile industries. Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Egypt’s Minister of Industry, Trade, and Small and Medium Size Enterprises, and UNIDO Director General LI Yong attended the official inauguration ceremony for the project. The new UNIDO project was formally launched last month in Egypt, coinciding with the nation’s first ever Economic Development Conference. A three-day event, the historic Economic Development Conference opened on March 13 in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. Over 112 countries were represented at the conference, with over 2,000 delegates in attendance.


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Ghana signs $60m transmission line agreement with Korea

The Ghanaian government has signed a $60 million loan agreement with the Korean government for the construction of a 185-kilometre (114 miles) power transmission line.The 330kV transmission line will run from Prestea in the Western Region to Kumasi in the Ashanti Region in a bid to improve supply from the south of the country to the north.The government signed the agreement with a consortium of Korean companies through the West African country’s state electricity transmission company the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), which will manage the implementation process until it is completed in Q1 of 2017, SpyGhana reported on Sunday. The project will be under the responsibility of Korean companies GS Engineering and Construction and Samsung C&T.The transmission project will be financed through a concessional loan facility from the Korean Export-Import Bank, local media reported.Minister of Power Dr Kwabena Donkor said the project has come at the right time, as the country has been facing many hurdles within the power sector and the country still strives “to emerge as a major energy powerhouse in the sub-region in the near future”.

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Norfund to triple investment in Sub-Saharan power sector by 2020

Norwegian state-owned development fund Norfund announced it intends to triple its power sector investments within Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, Reuters reported. The announcement was made at the Norway-Africa Energy Summit, attended by energy ministers from Ghana and Zambia as well as investors and researchers.Norfund is involved in developing hydropower in the Sub-Saharan region together with Norwegian power firm Statkraft and the UK development fund CDC to invest in Globeleq Africa, which intends to install an additional 5,000MW into Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy pool.

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Renewable power: KfW grants $339m loan to Eskom

On Wednesday, German state-owned development bank KfW announced it has granted South African parastatal Eskom a loan of $339 million (ZAR4 billion) to assist in upgrading the national electricity grid. With the country’s power grid under severe constraint, the loan will be used to connect renewable energy power solutions including wind and solar plants to the national grid to contribute towards achieving a reliable and secure supply of power, KfW said. Norbert Kloppenburg, a management board member at KfW, said in a statement: “The adjustment of the energy supply is a big step for South Africa away from dependency on coal towards a more sustainable electricity generation.”

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PV solar systems to light up 1.5 million rural Tanzania homes.

Tanzania-based Rex Energy Solar has partnered with Solaric, a US-Bangladesh solar innovations company, announcing last week that a new solar power project will provide energy systems to 1.5 million homes by 2020.The Rex–Solaric venture is set to install systems that have seen success in countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Malaysia.This project will provide more than just lighting needs and according to Francis Kibisha, the managing director of Rex Energy, the venture will help create more than 2,500 jobs in the process.The distribution process of the new solar system will encompass the training of local youth by Rex Solar Energy as artisans to install the system and provide after sales services.

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