Gigawatt Global announced last week that it is about to begin construction on a 7.5-MW solar plant in Burundi. The plant will be the first grid-connected project supported by the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) to begin full construction.
The project is also the first grid-connected solar project developed by an independent power producer (IPP) in the African country. It is hoped the success of the venture will pave the way for further foreign investment into the country’s renewable energy sector by demonstrating the government’s increased capacity – and willingness – to enter into bankable power purchase arrangements.
Full construction works on the plant in Mubuga, in Gitega Province, is set to begin imminently after Notice to Proceed was issued earlier last week. It is estimated that the plant, which follows Gigawatt Global’s first project in Rwanda, will be able to supply the electricity needs of around 87,600 people and businesses, and provide 300 part-time jobs during construction and support up to 50 permanent jobs during the operational phase.
Upon or after the project’s commercial operations date, part of REPP’s construction bridge loan will be refinanced as a 10-year subordinated loan.
Geoff Sinclair, Managing Director of Camco Clean Energy, which manages REPP, said: “Today’s announcement is a landmark moment for Burundi’s energy sector – once built the solar plant will add nearly 15% to the generation capacity of its grid using clean energy. It’s also an important milestone for REPP, as this project is the first in its portfolio to begin full construction, having received funding support from REPP throughout its development and financial close process.
“With REPP’s support, the Mubuga project will have a substantial positive impact on the country and is a clear demonstration of the important role that the private sector has to play in boosting Africa’s electricity supply with affordable renewable energy.”
Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi SA and the lead project director, said: “Bringing clean energy to one of the world’s least developed countries fulfils Gigawatt Global’s mission to be a premier impact platform of choice for renewables in Africa. We believe this demonstrates how solar power can be implemented in other developing markets, while decreasing dependency on costly and polluting diesel generators.
Lead image: Patrick Nzitunga, Gigawatt Global project director in Burundi, near to the REPP-supported 7.5-MW solar field in Mubuga, Burundi.