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The Enel Group’s global renewable energies division, Enel Green Power, has started the construction of the 34MW Ngonye solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, marking its first power plant in Zambia.

The PV facility, which is located in Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone in the country’s south, is part of the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar programme carried out by Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which awarded Enel in June 2016 the right to develop, finance, construct, own and operate the plant.

“The start of construction of Ngonye solar plant is a new milestone in the strengthening of the Enel Group’s presence in the African continent, where we already are the first private renewable operator in terms of installed capacity,” said Antonio Cammisecra, head of Enel’s Global Renewable Energies Division, Enel Green Power.

“Ngonye, with its clean, sustainable and reliable power, will play a significant role in helping Zambia to meet its electrification goals, demonstrating once again that renewable utility-scale power plants are the most effective solution to give access to electricity in the continent.”

Investments in Ngonye solar plant

The Enel Group will be investing around $40 million in the construction of Ngonye, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019. Read more: Zambia obtains $50m to advance its renewable energy programme

In June, the Group signed with IDC a financing agreement of around $34 million for the construction of the PV plant, involving senior loans of up to $10 million from the International Financing Corporation (IFC), up to $12 million from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program and up to $11.75 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Ngonye solar plant, which will be owned by a special purpose vehicle 80% held by EGP and 20% by IDC, is supported by a 25-year power purchase agreement signed with Zambia’s state-owned utility ZESCO.

Once fully up and running, the facility is expected to produce around 70GWh per year, avoiding the annual emission of over 45,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.