In Southern Africa, NEO I SPV, a subsidiary of OnePower Lesotho has secured a $695,500 grant to facilitate preparations of a bankable business case for the development of the Lesotho 20MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant.
Once developed, the PV plant is said to be the country’s first utility-scale solar PV project.
The funds have been approved by the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), a fund managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Ousseynou Nakoulima, AfDB's director for renewable energy and energy efficiency, commented: “The Bank will support the structuring of the project and lead it to bankability. Our ambition is to turn it into a reference solar PV project for the SADC Region.”
The AfDB explained that SEFA supports the sustainable energy agenda in Africa through grants to facilitate the preparation of medium-scale renewable energy generation and energy efficiency projects; equity investments to bridge the financing gap for small- and medium-scale renewable energy generation projects; and support to the public sector to improve the enabling environment for private investments in sustainable energy.
In addition, the Bank’s Africa Climate Technology Centre (ACTC) will cover the costs for legal services and project implementation support.
Lesotho solar PV project
According to the AfDB, the project will contribute to a strategic phase-out of costly power imports from Mozambique as well as reducing reliance on imported coal-generated power from South Africa.
Therefore, promoting independence of power supply, achieving substantial savings in the national budget and abating regional CO2 emissions. The project will further support rural development by stabilising the grid in Mafeteng Province.
The Lesotho solar PV project will contribute about 13% to the country’s maximum system demand of around 150MW.
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