Tapping into DRC’s solar potential with Kolwezi Solar Plant
DRC’s utility company SNEL is partnering with solar energy providers and investors to develop a large-scale (100 MWac) solar power production plant in Kolwezi.
Kolwezi Solar Plant
Société Nationale d'Électricité (SNEL), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s national utility company, signed a power purchase agreement on June 29 to construct two 100 MW solar plants, in Kolwezi and Likasi. However, the Kolwezi project is being prioritised due to the funding and partnerships it has secured. Globeleq, the project lead has teamed with CIGenCo, Greenshare Energy and Greenshare Congo, Volt Renewables and Nzuri Energy to define the project scope and start construction.
Construction will begin in early 2022 and will be completed within a year. The International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Collaborations and Co-development Financing Program, and Finland-IFC’s Blended Finance for Climate Program, are both contributing an equal amount of US$900,000 towards this project.
Current Energy Situation in DRC
Hydropower is a major contributor to power generation in the DRC, with around 9% of the power coming from this source. Currently, rural areas have only 4% access to electricity.
Efforts to improve access to electricity have identified Solar Power as a key option for addressing the problem. Solar radiation in DRC is around 6kWh/m2/day.
Effect of Kolwezi Solar Plant on Energy Needs
The construction of this solar plant will help diversify the energy generation portfolio of DRC, and reduce the burden of energy production from non-renewable to renewable energy options.
“Ramping up energy production capacity in the DRC is essential to increasing economic growth and improving living standards in the country. IFC is proud to provide early-stage growth capital to this ground-breaking project, which will deliver clean and competitive power in a region where it is currently in limited supply,” said Sylvain Kakou, IFC Country Manager for Central Africa.
The Kolwezi solar plant will sell electricity to DRC's national utility, SNEL, and this, in turn, will provide support for mining and economic activity in this copper and cobalt rich region.
Photo: Solar Farm (@AFSIA_Official Twitter Handle)