According to EREN RE, it is the largest East African solar plant. The 10 MW facility, commissioned in December 2017, in the small city of Soroti, Uganda, consists of more than 32,680 PV panels and provides electricity to over 40,000 households in the rural areas of eastern Uganda. It is a huge milestone for the renewable energy development in this region. The US$19 million Soroti Solar Plant came out to be a big success as the governments of United Kingdom, Germany and Norway hail it and render it as a success story from which the government should pick lessons.
Operated by Access Power Middle East and Africa and Luxembourg-based EREN Renewable Energy, this clean power station is an addition to the current power generation plants in the country so as to meet the increasing demands of power and to foster its development in the fast track. As reported by the World Bank, Uganda’s existing electricity capacity comes to about 800 MW with an electrification rate of 18.2 percent.
Largest East African solar plant in Soroti is scalable to 20 MW
Vahid Fotuhi, Managing Director Project Origination at Access, said at the launch ‘that although the station has a nominal capacity of 10MW, it is scalable to 20 MW.’ He further added that ‘this is a source of inspiration; it shows that there is a possibility of not only become a national but an international player in the area of sustainable energy generation.’
‘Government should take this project as an example to entrust the private sector with such projects because it did not have any procurement queries, Parliament did not have any queries, there were no scandals and it took only eight months to be completed. No shoddy work, no procurement scandals, no public loans, no delays all because the private sector was in charge. The 10 MW Soroti Solar Plant is a successful example of how development partners can deliver efficiently when they coordinate resources’ said Mr. Kristian Schmidt adding that the project is the first initiative of aid effectiveness which is being implemented in other countries now.
In addition to this, the Energy State minister, Mr. Simon D’ujanga rendered the Soroti project to be the one amongst three renewable energy development projects approved by the government in 2014 under the World Bank funded GET FIT project so as to initiate renewable energy projects for supplementing hydroelectricity within its energy mix efforts.
In most parts of the country, the residents do not have easy access to hydro energy and which is also quite expensive as well. Many people living in rural areas have invested in their own solar panels so as to obtain electricity and keep small businesses operating. People living in rural areas are very much optimistic that the launching of the Soroti Solar Plant will improve their living and will be an important step towards the renewable energy development plans of the country.
The launching ceremony was attended by the Uganda’s Minister of State for Energy, Ambassadors from Germany, Netherlands and the EU along with major stakeholders from Access Power and EREN RE; building contractor TSK, FMO and Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) as financiers, and other key officials.
The project is partly funded by the European Union and a result of a partnership between Access Power and EREN Renewable Energy. As an independent power producer (IPP), EREN has launched a number of international IPP renewable energy projects.