Blue Energy, a Cheshire-based renewable energy firm, has announced plans for its first solar project outside of the UK in Ghana.
The company will finance and develop a US$400 million (£248.5 million) 155MW PV plant on a 183-hectare site close to the village of Aiwiaso in Western Ghana. The project will be one of the world’s largest PV plants and is said to represent the largest PV facility in Africa.
Speaking with Solar Power Portal’s sister site PV-Tech, Douglas Coleman, Special Projects Director of Blue Energy, said that he believed the 155MW Nzema project would also be the first grid-connected project in Ghana.
Blue Energy has secured all necessary permissions for the project to go-ahead and is now concluding discussions with several international financial institutions and global equity and infrastructure funds, which have expressed interest in providing debt financing or investing in the project. It expects to reach financial close in the first half of 2013.
At present, the company is in negotiations with two potential EPC providers. It has not yet selected the equipment suppliers, however Coleman was able to confirm that the project will utilise around 630,000 polycrystalline 245w PV modules which will help to generate an estimated annual output of 240GWh.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2013 and sections will come online as they are completed. It is expected to be fully operational by October 2015.
The Nzema project will be the first to go ahead under Ghana’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act, which Coleman described as an “elegant, transparent and open regulatory framework”. Feed-in tariffs are offered under the Act which also seeks to attract international finance. The Act was launched in November 2011.
Commenting on the impact of the project, Chris Dean, CEO of Blue Energy, said: “Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future. There’s huge potential to develop renewable power in the region. We believe Nzema will show other countries what can be achieved and spur them to action.”
Blue Energy has several additional PV projects in the pipeline in West Africa but no further details were divulged. However, Coleman revealed that the company may consider entering the South African solar market, which has seen a surge in PV activity in recent months.