Zambia goes global to source more solar power

The Zambian government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with World Bank member the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to develop two 50 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) independent projects.

The focus by authorities on the development of solar power and renewable energy stems from more frequent power shortages being experienced throughout the Southern African country.

Photovoltaic is understood to be the method used to convert solar power into electricity. The two solar developments represent Zambia's first utility scale photovoltaic projects (largest scale solar technology projects).

They will provide clean power that is expected to reduce the country's dependency on hydro resources and diversify the energy supply mix.

Zambia's president Edgar Lungu said the projects are required to address a national power generation deficit of over 560 megawatts caused by poor rainfall.

The commercial structure of the project is expected to follow IFC's recently-launched scaling solar initiative and the Corporation will fund projects involving Zambia's participation.

Scaling Solar is a World Bank Group package solution that enables the rapid rollout of utility-scale PV power plants across Sub-Saharan Africa at locally competitive prices.

Lungu said he wants the government's development arm, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), to target and develop at least 600 megawatts of power in the shortest possible time in order to redress the current power deficit.

"The IDC, working with IFC, therefore anticipates that the proposed solar power projects, with a combined initial capacity of 100MW, will represent the first of several development rounds leading to the rapid deployment of up 600MW of solar power in Zambia," Lungu said.

The proposed projects would be situated on separate sites and developed by different sector sponsors, based on open and transparent selection.

Lungu said the Zambian government has resolved to promote increased use of renewable energy technologies in the country.