An historic agreement to build, own and operate West Africa’s first utility-scale solar power plant has been signed by Norwegian company, Scatec Solar and its partners, the Malian Ministry of Energy and Water and Electricité du Mali (EDM), the electricity utility of Mali.
The plant is to be located near the ancient city of Segou in Southeast Mali, 240 kilometres from Bamako. Developed in partnership with IFC InfraVentures and the local developer Africa Power 1, the 33MW solar project signals the government’s commitment to meet the nation’s growing energy demand to provide clean, renewable and affordable energy for its people.
The agreement includes a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between EDM and Segou Solaire SA, the local project company controlled by Scatec Solar, for the delivery of solar power over the next 25 years. The PPA with the utility is complemented by a Concession Contract with the government of Mali, granting license to Segou Solaire to operate.
The Agreement strengthens Scatec’s position as the leading, integrated solar IPP (Independent Power Producer) in Africa. The Oslo-headquartered company’s Chief Executive Officer, Raymond Carlsen commented: “This project is another great milestone for Scatec Solar. After several years of development efforts in the region, we can now move forward with the first utility-scale solar plant in West Africa. The Malian Authorities have demonstrated decisive will to tackle the nagging issue of power supply.”
Half of the power plant will be owned by Scatec Solar (SSO) and the World Bank’s project development fund, while IFC InfraVentures will hold 32.5 percent, while the local project development company, Africa Power 1, headed by Dr Ibrahim Togola, will hold 17.5 percent. Moreover, Scatec Solar will not only construct the plant, but provide additional operation and maintenance services after the plant is connected to the grid.
“One of the pillars of the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Mali is to increase access to energy, a development fundamental. IFC InfraVentures’ partnership with Scatec Solar and Africa Power 1 helps advance this strategy through Scatec Segou, part of a series of renewable energy projects we are developing in the country,” said Alain Ebobisse, Global Head of IFC InfraVentures.
Dr Ibrahim Togola, the chairman of Africa Power 1 SA and General Administrator of Scatec Solar West Africa added: “This agreement is historic because Mali now becomes the first country to install the largest solar grid-connected power plant in the region. This high profile joint-venture in which Malian citizens participate will serve as a model to launch the solar era in West Africa.”
Annual production from the 33 MW solar power plant is estimated to be 60,000 Megawatts/hour (MWh). The ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar plant will deploy approximately 130,000 PV modules on a fixed tilt system and will connect to an existing transmission line. This will provide clean and affordable energy to a country in dire need for more power generation capacity to support further economic growth. The power generated from the plant represents five percent of Mali’s total electricity consumption, equal to the electricity consumption of 60,000 households.
During the construction phase, the project will provide 200 local jobs. As part of Scatec’s corporate philosophy, special emphasis will be put on transferring technical expertise to the local community.
In an era of climate change concerns, the 33 MW Segou Power Plant is an important initiative to reduce carbon emissions by about 46,000 tonnes of CO2 once completed. Scatec Solar and EDM will jointly register the project with the United Nations CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) under Scatec Solar’s programme for solar projects in Africa.