AMEA Power has announced the official commissioning of a 50MW solar PV plant in Blitta, Togo, marking the country’s first utility-scale renewable energy project developed by an Independent Power Producer (IPP).
The solar plant reached commercial operation within 18 months of signing the Power Purchase Agreement, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Built by AMEA Togo Solar, a subsidiary of AMEA Power (itself a subsidiary of UAE-based Al Nowais Investment) the solar plant is officially named Sheik Mohamed Bin Zayed after the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
Now one of the largest solar PV IPP plants in West Africa, the power plant is located 267kms from Togo’s capital, Lomé, and has a planned production of nearly 90,255MWh of power a year. This will supply power to about 158,333 households a year. Around 9% of the energy generated at the plant will feed into the local Blitta distribution network, which is enough to meet demand in the area.
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AMEA Togo Solar will operate the plant for 25 years and it is estimated that more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions will be avoided in that time. This will go a long way towards supporting Togo’s ambitious $8 billion 2018-2022 National Development Plan (NDP) to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030 and increase the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix to 50%.
Pre-funding business model uniquely suited to Togo project
Mila Aziable, Minister Delegate to the President of the Republic, in charge of energy and mines in Togo, said the development of the solar PV plant was an example of a successful Public-Private Partnership in Africa, with AMEA Power utilitising Togo’s committed implementation unit and favourable investment climate to pre-fund a large scale renewable energy project on balance sheet.
The project was supported with concessional loans from the West African Development Board and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. It was pre-funded on balance sheet and then refinanced. This is a unique model for a large-scale IPP project in Africa.
The use of the model is indicative of the level of project certainty created by the NDP’s regulatory framework, which provided AMEA Power with the necessary level of assurance to embark on the project’s executive well in advance of the financing being arranged.
Hussain Al Nowais, AMEA Power chairman said the company is delighted to launch the solar PV plant. “Togo was an obvious choice for AMEA Power’s first operational power plant in Africa, with it being an important trade hub in West Africa, along with the government’s progressive regulatory framework for renewable energy projects, which was key in ensuring the completion of the project in a fast, efficient and responsible manner.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for AMEA Power and we are on track to becoming one of the fastest-growing renewable energy IPPS with several additional projects set to achieve financial close in 2021,” said Al Nowais.
Effect of solar plant goes beyond electrification
About 80% of the plant workers hail directly from Togo and construction of the power plant also helped to create local employment opportunities.
AMEA Power invested directly in community initiatives in Blitta, positively impacting more than 100,000 people by constructing and providing equipment for a new clinic and three new school buildings. They also renovated four schools, provided schools supplies for 1,400 students and installed a water pump at a local primary school. The company will provide electricity via solar power to the schools and clinic.
Their internship programme also brought 36 engineering students from various technical institutions in Togo to the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed PV plant. The students were given the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge and develop practical skills in renewable energies to prepare them for potential employment in the industry.