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  • ALTEN Africa Achieves Financial Closure for 45.5MWp PV Plant
  • Kenya looks into large-scale geothermal power generation
  • Egypt inaugurates first phase of Benban solar park
  • Sierra Leone: 25MW solar PV project to boost Bo District
  • Guinea: EximBank approves $1.3bn for hydropower plant
  • Ghana to install 200,000 solar systems
  • West Africa: Public lighting takes an efficient turn
  • Zambia: AfDB leads renewable energy financing framework
  • Mozambique: Large-scale solar plant reaches financial close
  • Kenya: Wanjii hydro undergoes modernisation work
  • Malawi Ropes in Private Investors in Power Generation
  • Madagascar joins Scaling Solar scheme with added energy storage
  • GE unveils market-changing 12MW offshore wind turbine
  • Ethiopia: Meeting Energy Demands of Booming Population
  • Rwanda: 400 Ruhango Households Connected to National Power Grid
  • Gambia: Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Curricula Validated
  • GE Power to assist Ghanaian firm with innovative energy solution
  • Central Africa to receive improved energy access
  • Nigeria: Energy Firm Signs Pact to Power 1,000 Homes, Markets in Niger Delta
  • Ethiopia builds Africa’s first energy plant that converts trash into electricity
  • Sweden and Kajiado partner to produce electricity, gas from waste
  • Second-generation solar street lighting: Technology evolution and applications
  • Morocco approves two hydropower plants
  • NAWEC signs power supply contract with Karpower
  • Africa included in EIB’s latest funding round
  • Gravitricity sets sights on South Africa to test green energy tech
  • East Africa to explore the micro-utility space

  • ALTEN Africa Achieves Financial Closure for 45.5MWp PV Plant

    ALTEN Africa has achieved financial closure of what will be the biggest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Namibia, with an installed capacity of 45.5 MWp for an output of 37 MWac. Financing has been closed with South Africa's Standard Bank and the subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement, Proparco for $50 million. The executive president of ALTEN Energías Renovables, Juan Laso, commented: "This achievement builds on the solid commitment being made by ALTEN Energías Renovables to Sub-Saharan Africa. “We expect to have excellent results over the next few years, thanks to the support of Inspired Evolution, which gives ALTEN Africa a specialist partner with a team that has experience in the regional market and a track record of close to 1GW, in clean energy infrastructure investments.” The power plant developer has a majority stake (51%) in the investment vehicle (ALTEN Hardap), in which NamPower also has a stake (19%), together with local investors First Place, Mangrove and Talyeni (30%) led by eight Namibian women.

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    Kenya looks into large-scale geothermal power generation

    The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement with the government of Kenya in Nairobi to provide a Japanese ODA loan of up to JPY 10.077 billion ($94 million) for the Olkaria I Units 1, 2 and 3 Geothermal Power Plant Rehabilitation Project. JICA said in a statement that the project will rehabilitate units 1–3 (15MW each) of the existing Olkaria I Geothermal Power Plant to approximately 51MW (17MW each) in the Olkaria geothermal field in Nakuru County in central Kenya. According to the Business Daily, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich signed the financing agreement on behalf of the government. Rotich noted: “Considering that the project life of the original design is 25 years, the plant is already overworked,” adding that the plant’s maintenance costs had grown even as electricity production dropped. Due to firm economic growth and the electrification of areas without electricity, the power demand is expected to increase dramatically in the east African country.

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    Egypt inaugurates first phase of Benban solar park

    On Tuesday, Egypt's Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker inaugurated the first phase of the Benban solar park in Aswan. The event celebrates Infinity Solar’s 50MW power plant, which began trial operation last December, Ahram online reported. The PV Park is being developed under the feed-in-tariff (FiT) renewable energy programme, occupying 37 square-kilometers. On completion, the park is expected to host a total capacity of 1.8GW, making it the largest planned solar installation in the world. Benban solar park. The project is expected to abate up to 100,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per annum, supporting Egypt’s emission reduction targets under the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as promoting sustainable energy development and private sector participation in the country’s energy landscape. Ahram online reported that so far 30 solar projects have achieved financial close, with over $2.2 billion in financing, according to Zulficar & Partners Law Firm who advised the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) on the second round of the feed-in-tariff solar programme in Benba.

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    Sierra Leone: 25MW solar PV project to boost Bo District

    A responsAbility-managed energy company focusing on Sub-Sahara Africa, together with Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES), have signed an agreement to co-develop a 25MW solar PV project in Sierra Leone’s Bo District. The project is to be built in two phases, with construction on a 5MW plant intended to start this year. The responsAbility-managed energy company intends to provide the development and construction equity finance to fast-track the implementation of the first 5MW phase of the project, under the agreement with AGES, in support of the government of Sierra Leone and the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority’s electrification agenda. The site for the first 5MW plant is located 300 km east of the capital Freetown in Sierra Leone’s Bo District, between Bo and Kenema. Read more: Ministry inaugurates Solar Park Freetown project Under a Power Purchase Agreement and Implementation Agreement ratified by Parliament, the produced electricity will be fed into the Bo-Kenema transmission mini-grid, which is being upgraded. Waiting for the green light According to the project developers, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of the project prepared by local consultants has been submitted to the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

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    Guinea: EximBank approves $1.3bn for hydropower plant

    China’s EximBank has approved $1.3 billion in financing for a utility-scale hydroelectric plant in Guinea. The 450MW plant is expected to produce sufficient capacity to export to the west African country’s neighbouring countries. Reuters reported that China Water Electric (CWE) began building the dam in December 2015, and the government said at the time it expected construction to take about five years. In a statement on Tuesday, Guinea’s government said: “The signing of the loan agreement will take place very soon, which will allow the already advanced construction work to accelerate.”A senior adviser to the President, Alpha Conde, said the loan would be reimbursed through electricity sales to neighbouring countries by a joint venture between the Guinean state and CWE. Guinea-Mali high voltage line project obtains funding Reuters reported that despite substantial hydroelectric potential in Guinea from its 12 major rivers, only about a quarter of the population has access to electricity, according to USAID, due to failing infrastructure and mismanagement of the sector.

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    Ghana to install 200,000 solar systems

    Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo says government is planning to install 200,000 solar systems to provide power to households, commercial as well as government facilities in urban and selected non-electrified communities. President Akufo-Addo revealed this while addressing the plenary session of the maiden conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi, India. Ghanaian Times reported that the move forms part of government's commitment to increase the use of renewable energy in the country's power generation mix, while expanding access to electricity across the country. Akufo-Addo further disclosed that the government intends to provide two million solar lanterns to replace kerosene lanterns currently used by residents in rural and non-electrified communities in the country. He complained about Ghana's inability to exploit its solar resources, which could meet its energy demands, despite its unique position on the globe and the abundant sunshine. "Ghana is located around the Equatorial Sunbelt with many parts of the country enjoying high solar.

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    West Africa: Public lighting takes an efficient turn

    Governments, municipal councils and stakeholders in Africa have realised the need to modernise existing streetlight infrastructure to achieve energy efficiency targets and reduce carbon emissions. A recent report issued by Transparency Marker Research (TMR), forecasts developing economies including Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East to contribute significantly towards the growth of the solar street lighting market through to 2025. Government regulation to reduce energy costs and partnerships with international and regional non-governmental organisations will result in increased streetlight programmes, according to TMR. West Africa looks into LED lighting. In Nigeria, the Lagos State government in partnership with UK-based Low Energy Designs Limited, has unveiled an initiative that aims to install 10,000 LED streetlights in Eke. In addition, the duo have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to construct a $7 million LED Lighting and Hybrid Energy Power Assembly plant. The facility will be used for development, testing and training of LED lighting and renewable energy technologies.

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    New Phase for EEP Africa to unlock greater opportunities

    The new Energy and Environment Partnership Trust Fund covering Southern and East Africa goes live with a combined commitment of €25 million from Finland and NDF. NDF hosted a delegation from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA Finland) on Friday for the signing of a €15 million financing commitment to the new Energy and Environment Partnership Trust Fund covering Southern and East Africa (EEP Africa). EEP Africa, secures support. In a statement, EEP noted that the new financing commitment from Finland will support clean energy access and sustainable and inclusive green growth in 15 countries in Southern and East Africa and complements an additional €10 million approved by NDF’s own Board of Directors at the end of 2017. A second signing with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) for an additional contribution is expected soon to follow.

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    Zambia: AfDB leads renewable energy financing framework

    The board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved the first funding proposal of the African Development Bank for Zambia’s Renewable Energy Financing Framework. The GCF will provide a $50 million loan and a $2.5 million grant for the framework. The framework aims to finance 100MW of renewable energy projects under the Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff (REFiT) policy of Zambia. The primary solar projects will help diversify the country’s energy production, which is heavily reliant on hydro-electricity. Facing a serious electricity supply deficit due to recent droughts, the government of Zambia launched the REFiT policy in 2017 to crowd-in private investments for renewable projects up to 20MW. Read more: GET FiT Zambia is official Renewable energy financing framework This is the first programme that will be co-financed by the GCF and the AfDB following the signing of the Accreditation Master Agreement on November 8, 2017 between the two institutions, making the Bank a credited implementer of GCF-approved projects.

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    Mozambique: Large-scale solar plant reaches financial close

    Scatec Solar, KLP Norfund Investments and Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM) have closed debt financing and initiated construction of a 40MW solar plant located close to the city of Mocuba in the Zambézia Province. "EDM is very pleased that the Mocuba Solar IPP project has reached financial close through a well-structured public-private partnership between EDM, Scatec Solar and Norfund, and with excellent support from IFC and EAIF as lenders, as well as the government of Norway", said EDM's chairman and CEO, Dr Mateus Magala. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provided project debt of $19 million on its own account together with a concessional loan from the Climate Investment Fund of the same size and a syndicated loan of $17 million from the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), managed by Investec Asset Management, which is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). In addition, EAIF is directly providing a $7 million Viability Gap Funding grant for the project raised from the Technical Assistance Fund of the PIDG.

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    Kenya: Wanjii hydro undergoes modernisation work

    In Kenya, the Wanjii small hydropower plant is expected to increase its output by around 20% after extensive modernisation works reach completion. German-based technology firm, Voith, is replacing the plant's turbines, generators, control technology as well as the electromechanical equipment. The works are expected to reach completion in mid-2019. With an output of 7.4MW, the Wanjii facility, which is located around 80 kilometers to the northeast of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, is a good example of the importance of a decentralised energy supply in Africa. Modernisation works to improve performance. A key determining factor outlined by the plant operator and national power producer, KenGen, will be the significant increase in performance. According to the technology firm, the modernisation concept will also improve the plant's energy balance with the reduced number of electrical consumers. In addition, maintenance will become easier as individual components can be replaced, if necessary with minimal effort.

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    Malawi Ropes in Private Investors in Power Generation

    Under-investment in power generation coupled with El Nino-induced drought has driven energy poverty in the country to crisis level. As Malawians mull over how the power outages stunted economic development in the past two years, there is now a beam of light on the horizon, writes TIONE ANDISENI of Malawi News Agency. Dowa - Mayi Alefa Banda coughs as she walks out of a maize mill at Mponela in Dowa. Her expression on her face tells a story of happiness. "It is like a miracle for me to spend about 30 minutes at this maize mill. Last December, we used to wait for hours and sometimes for a day to have our maize milled. Blackouts were a huge problem," she explains. She is right because at the height of load-shedding, some areas like Mponela used to endure up to 20 hours of blackouts on some days. With blackouts haunting almost everyone, any discussion on the cause of the power crisis was blended with emotions, falsehoods, propaganda and even political tantrums.

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    Madagascar joins Scaling Solar scheme with added energy storage

    Madagascar is the third African country to join the Scaling Solar programme, with the planned 30-40MW solar facility envisaged to help ease daily interruptions of power service. Other Scaling Solar tenders also underway are in Senegal and Ethiopia, with a second round underway in Zambia. The World Bank highlighted that the island nation suffers from frequent power outages, and under one fifth of the population has access to electricity. In the Bank’s Doing Business Report, Madagascar was ranked 187 out of 189 countries regarding the difficulty, delay, and cost of getting electricity. The planned Scaling Solar project will provide a reliable alternative to expensive diesel generators, drawing on an abundant source of renewable energy.

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    GE unveils market-changing 12MW offshore wind turbine

    GE has unveiled its long-rumoured next-generation offshore wind turbine design, a 12MW monster that will churn out 67GWh of power a year – 45% more than current best-in-class machines – and take the wider offshore wind industry toward the next level of industrialisation as a first model fit for the zero-subsidy European plants of the 2020s. The Haliade-X, launched by the US company with Parisian flourish as having a rotor-star “five times the size of the Arc de Triomphe”, will fly LM Wind Power’s lengthiest blade to-date, a hyper-long 107-metre model that eclipses the sector’s current record-setters by almost 20 metres. Each machine will produce enough electricity for 16,000 European households, with a 750MW wind farm able to supply one million homes. First nacelles are expected to be complete in time for demonstration next year and lead-off bids with the turbine, which went in “two weeks ago”, could result in flagship orders being shipped out in 2021. “We want to lead in the technologies that are driving the global energy transition,” said GE chief executive John Flannery, in a statement sent to Recharge in advance of the official launch. “Offshore wind is one of those technologies and we will bring the full resources of GE to make the Haliade-X programme successful for our customers.”

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    Ethiopia: Meeting Energy Demands of Booming Population

    Ethiopia's population has reached more than 100 million. From this number, 70 percent of it lives in rural areas of the country. Having understood the ensuing chronic energy problem in the country, the government has been launching renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar, wind and biogas to solve the problem. The launching of these projects across the length and breadth of the country has helped to increase the national forest cover while contributing to the green development. Bio-gas technology, being one of the alternative energy source, has been used in many rural parts of the country. The government has distributed thousands of bio-digesters throughout the country so far. Biogas is playing pivotal role in replacing the utilization of wood, charcoal and other resources and ensuring green economy. According to the National Biogas Program of Ethiopia (NBPE), biogas technology was first launched in Ethiopia in 1979. Since then, it has shown tremendous progress. It has brought several advantages to the rural people.

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    Rwanda: 400 Ruhango Households Connected to National Power Grid

    Members from a total of 400 households along with staff and patients of Nyarurama Health Center in Nyarurama village, Ntongwe sector in Ruhango District on Friday 23 were celebrating as they all got connected to the national power grid by the Rwanda Energy Group (REG). For so long, the health center had been relying on solar power which they abandoned some time back and turned to using generators, making it expensive to generate electricity 24/7. REG is expending much effort and resources to connect health centers, schools, trading centers, local government offices and households not only in Ruhango District but throughout the entire 400 Ruhango households connected to national power grid. The Director of Nyarurama Health Center Israel Hagenimana told The New Times that lack of electricity was hampering with the efficient provision of services to patients at the health center. "We are moved beyond words now that we have been given electricity. The generator was costing the health center a lot of money to buy diesel to keep it running for hours on a daily basis," said Hagenimana.

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    Gambia: Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Curricula Validated

    The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in consultation with partners have on Friday validated the Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Curricula for senior secondary schools, vocational/tertiary and higher education institutions in The Gambia. The curricula focuses on the development of training for vocational/tertiary, senior secondary schools and higher education institutions in the country, according to common accepted criteria and standards, focussed on the knowledge, understanding and skills for small scale renewable energy source among others. According to the specialists, the curricular will contribute to the renewable energy market growth in The Gambia, provide a supporting instrument for the SE4ALL Action to achieve the national target share of energy from renewable energy in the overall national energy consumption by 2020 and 2030. The Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Curricula is co-funded by the UNIDO/GEF-5 and UNESCO-NATCOM programmes in The Gambia.

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    GE Power to assist Ghanaian firm with innovative energy solution

    Ghanaian-owned power company, Marinus Energy, will be partnering with GE Power, a subsidiary of General Electric on innovative energy solutions, which will make use of the country’s flared gas that would have gone to waste. The 25MW power plant, anticipated to cost $25 million, will be stationed at Atuabo in the Western Region, and will utilise Isopentane gas as a fuel source, reports the Graphic. GE said the Atuabo waste-to-power Independent Power Project would be the first TM 2500 power plant in sub-Saharan Africa to use Isopentane gas as a fuel source and would run on its latest TM 2500 gas turbines. Commenting on the project, the strategic advisor of Marinus Energy, Fred Asamany, said: “Not only is the Atuabo waste-to-power plant enabling our company to lead in innovative energy solutions in Ghana but by using a fuel source which would otherwise have been flared as waste, we are further reducing emissions and costs. “This is good for our business and the climate and eliminates potential environmental hazards facing the local community. GE is offering an innovative solution which gives us the confidence to move from pilot to commercial operations.”

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    Central Africa to receive improved energy access

    The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) has contracted UK engineering consultant, WSP, to develop a proposed 330 kV interconnector between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to improve energy access. The project has received financial backing from the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the AREP programme. The project aims to support the development of an efficient and competitive regional power market to reduce electricity prices in the region. According to the engineers, a strong transmission link will help the DRC and Zambia to improve the security and reliability of the power networks and to foster economic development and regional integration. The 330 kV transmission line will connect Kolwezi in DRC to the district of Solwezi in Zambia, through the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) network at Lumwana or Kalumbila Substation and the future Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL) network at Kolwezi NRO substation. The UK firm explained in a statement that a team of engineers will undertake a three-stage feasibility study to develop options and recommend a preferred solution for the interconnector.

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    Nigeria: Energy Firm Signs Pact to Power 1,000 Homes, Markets in Niger Delta

    Port Harcourt — Nigerian off-grid energy investment company, All On, has signed pacts with three firms for accelerated access to affordable and sustainable energy sources in the Niger Delta. The firm said its target is to provide electricity to over 1,000 homes in the region in the first phase of the agreement on the off-grid investment. The agreement, which is expected to give power to communities including markets, was between All On and its partners, Lumos, Cold Hubs and GVE Projects Limited. The Chief Executive Officer, of All On, Dr. Boer Wiebe, after signing the agreement in Port Harcourt, said, the move demonstrates its belief that energy is indispensable in the improvement of Nigeria's energy narrative, adding that power deserves adequate attention, and financial backing from both the public and private sectors. Wiebe explained that the purpose of the agreement was to resolve the problem of poor electricity in the Niger Delta, adding that individuals would have the opportunity of generating their own power at low cost.

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    Ethiopia builds Africa’s first energy plant that converts trash into electricity

    Waste management is one of the biggest challenges confronting many African countries. The issue of collection, management and disposal of solid waste still features highly in major towns and cities across the region. Failure to correctly manage waste disposal has often led to flooding and the outbreak of diseases. In Ethiopia, its largest rubbish dump Koshe was for almost 50 years, home to hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital Addis Ababa. It, however, made headlines last year when it killed about 114 people, compelling the government to rethink an alternative use for the site which is said to be the size of 36 football pitches. Ethiopia has since turned the site into a new waste-to-energy plant via the Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project which is the first of its kind in Africa. This forms part of efforts to revolutionise waste management practices in the country.

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    Sweden and Kajiado partner to produce electricity, gas from waste

    Sweden has partnered with Kajiado County to produce electricity and gas from waste in major towns. The Scandinavian country is targeting total recycling of solid and liquid waste from the county’s urban centres. Areas targeted through International Centre for Local Democracy (ICDL) are Rongai, Kiserian, Kitengela and Ngong. Their waste will be recycledalongside that from Machakos and Nairobi counties. ICDL will implement the project through Umea City's international project on solid and waste water management. Kajiado Deputy Governor Martin Moshisho and Umea City's Mayor Margaretta Ronngaren signed the deal in Sweden last week. "The partnership will run into millions of shillings. We have now started to craft a master plan that will guide the exact amount of funds to be availed to Kajiado County," said Moshisho. "From our preliminary talks, it will definitely be more than Sh300 million."Moshisho said the project had suffered a lull last year due to political uncertainty. "We are now back on track with the new confirmation of funding from Sweden," he said. Umea City's Head of International Affairs, Cathrin Alenskar, confirmed that targeted waste will be from the rapidly growing towns.

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    Second-generation solar street lighting: Technology evolution and applications

    Strong technical evolutions have taken place in the field of solar street lighting with the rise of solar and LED technologies. These technological innovations include ten years lifespan batteries, smart battery and lighting management systems (such as no black-out function), anti-theft features and easy plug-and-play installation.This evolution is a real game-changer for many public and private applications as solar powered street lighting becomes a viable option. The market uptake of these products will contribute towards a more sustainable and smart city with solar-powered products, lower greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced connectivity.Off-grid solar systems such as solar street lights have been designed and available on the market for more than 40 years. However, their price and performance limited their market uptake. First generation solar street lights were made of conventional solar panels on top of a pole associated with a lead-acid battery (either buried, at the bottom or on top of the mast), a charge controller and a lantern.

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    Morocco approves two hydropower plants

    French renewable energy producer, Voltalia has obtained permits for the development of two hydropower plants with a capacity of 9.8MW and 7.2MW, respectively in Morocco. This was revealed during a Photovoltaica congress of renewable energies in Marrakech. Delivered by the Moroccan Ministry for Energy, the permits relate to two hydropower plant projects that will be located in the Middle-Atlas region. According to the renewable energy firm, these permits follow positive technical approvals delivered by the National Bureau for Electricity and Drinking Water regarding the connection of the plants to the national grid. “These permits come as a recognition of the extensive work done over the past three years by our Moroccan team," declares Sébastien Clerc, CEO of Voltalia. The concerned water basin agencies have also given a green light, taking into account the quality of the projects presented by Voltalia. The electricity produced will be sold under long-term private Power Purchase Agreements, which are currently under negotiation with corporate clients. “They confirm Voltalia’s capacity to position itself as a first class partner for the electricity provision of its clients, at a competitive price,” adds Yoni Ammar, CEO of Voltalia Morocco.

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    NAWEC signs power supply contract with Karpower

    The National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) has signed a 30MW power supply contract with Turkish Company, Karpower. The contract according to the authorities is a mutual agreement that will last for two years, reports Foroyaa. The Minister of Energy, Fafa Sanyang, said the agreement is a milestone drive for government to provide reliable, sustainable and affordable energy supply to the people of the Gambia for sustainable economic growth and development. The minister noted that for over 52 years since the Gambia gained independence, the energy sector continues to be a major challenge prompting the government to recognise the urgency to transform and modernise the energy sector. Sanyang said the signing of the contract is a short-term plan to improve capacity on the energy sector roadmap. The objective, he said is for NAWEC to rehabilitate, repair and maintain the implementation of on-going projects that will eliminate the energy constraints.

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    Africa included in EIB’s latest funding round

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved €6.5 billion ($8 billion) in funding for projects in EU countries, Africa, Asia and Latin America. The announced funding will support some 36 projects in 17 EU countries including energy, transport, housing and water schemes in the other three regions. A total of $2 billion has been set aside for the EIB to partner with international financial institutions in issuing green bonds in developing economies worldwide. The green bonds will be used to address challenges associated with changing climate. The set aside budget will help countries secure energy supply through expansion of energy generation resources. For instance, African countries to benefit from the initiative will improve access to electricity to underserved consumers through the development of medium sized renewable energy projects. A 17MW wind farm will be developed in Lower Austria and hydropower plant in Georgia, using the funding. EIB says a share of the $8 billion will be directed towards modernising energy distribution networks and for smart meter rollout in Italy and Spain, respectively. The Scottish city of Dundee will construct a new waste to energy project. The Rwandan capital, Kigali, will benefit from the development and modernisation of its water infrastructure and improve water services. Werner Hoyer, president of the EIB, said: “New financing approved today demonstrates the EIB’s firm commitment to improving education, energy, transport, housing and water needs and ensuring that businesses can expand. This includes both new initiatives to transform the global green bond market and improve daily life in western, central and southern Africa.” The approval was made during EIB’s first meeting of 2018 held in Luxembourg last week.

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    Gravitricity sets sights on South Africa to test green energy tech

    Disused mine shafts in South Africa have been identified as an ideal location to test UK-based energy start-up Gravitricity’s green energy technology. The company announced plans to transform disused mine shafts into hi-tech green energy generation facilities through a system that uses gravity and massive weights. Gravitricity received a £650, 000 ($907, 000) grant from Innovate UK, the British government’s innovation agency, to kick-start their plan to harness the power of gravity to store renewable energy. The technology uses a massive weight suspended in mine shafts to capture green energy, and then release it in seconds. Should this plan by Gravitricity succeed, their technology could breathe new life into former mining communities and with it jobs and economic activity. The UK grant will enable them to start building a scale demonstrator later this year, and find a site to install a full-scale prototype by 2020. They are now on the look-out for investors, including those who can bring mining experience to the team and suitable shafts to trial their technology. “So far there is a lot of focus on batteries, but our idea is quite different,” says Charlie Blair, the company’s managing director. “As we rely more and more on renewable energy, there is an increasing need to find ways to store that energy – so we can produce quick bursts of power exactly when it is needed,” explains Blair.

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    East Africa to explore the micro-utility space

    A village in East Africa is soon to be the recipient of a solar-powered microgrid, which will be able to supply power to more than one village. With no utility or supporting infrastructure in the area, EnSync Energy Systems, a developer of innovative distributed energy resources (DERs), is seeking to install a 180kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system paired with a 112-kWh energy storage system this spring. According to the energy developer, the project was sold to a buyer who will sell electricity to village residents via the microgrid, essentially serving as the area micro-utility. Adding that Africa is projected to contain 35,000 microgrids by 2021 that will serve as key electricity providers to millions of people who currently lack access. "The DER SuperModule enables rapid commissioning of an advanced microgrid, significantly reducing project construction schedule and cost," said Dan Nordloh, executive vice president of EnSync Energy. Nordloh explained: "The system offers simplicity, while also mitigating the risks associated with integrating multiple distributed energy resources.“Our customer was looking for a way to serve as the utility, selling affordable and reliable electricity to remote villages on a mobile phone-based payment platform. ”The project was designed on the village's initial expected energy load to appropriately size the microgrid's solar and storage components. The resulting micro-utility configuration will remain flexible through the company’s SuperModule's supporting technologies. Brad Hansen, chief executive officer of the energy firm said that the African market is shifting towards distributed energy resource-based generation and distribution, with more of these types of micro-utilities to be expected in the coming future.

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