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East Africa: EU encourages increased solar development

The European Union has suggested that East African states shift focus away from water heavy generation units towards solar generated power – of which the region is in abundance.

According to the head of European Union delegation in Uganda, Ambassador Kristain Schmidt, Uganda boats a suitable environment for solar power development due to the climatic conditions and the regulatory framework, East African Business Week reported.

Schmidt made this statement while addressing an audience at the commissioning of the $ 19 million solar photovoltaic project in Soroti, Eastern Uganda.

“Uganda is a good place to invest in solar energy. The regulatory framework is conducive and the government rightly recognizes Uganda’s energy future must be renewable.

It is great that this is now triggering private sector interest in solar power generation the government should continue attracting more investors to invest in solar power generation in the country because Uganda has many sites where the major plants can be established to generate more renewable energy,” Schmidt said.

East African solar

According to media, the Soroti power plant is the largest in the region, consisting of 32,680 photovoltaic (PV) panels and generating 10MW of power.

Commissioning the plant, Uganda’s Minister of state for Energy Eng. Simon D’Ujanga said the government will continue working with the private sector with the support from the development partners to diversify the country’s power sector.

“The strong collaboration which the government has been having with development partners and private sector has supported the government to embark on the construction of mega hydro power project such as Bujagali and the ongoing power projects such as Karuma and Isimba, which is about to commence.

“As government we are going to borrow the same model for solar power,” said D’ Ujanga.

Soroti power plant

East African Business Week explained: “The plant was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (GET Fit) a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by the Germanys, KfW Development Bank in Partnership with Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) and funded by governments of Norway Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

“GET Fit’s objective is to help to make renewable energy sources more affordable and therefore more accessible in the Eastern African block. In Uganda, the programme is to support and overcome investment barriers for private developers of small-scale (1-20MW) renewable energy projects. The programme will enable the realisation of 17 projects with targeted total installed capacity of roughly 170MW.”

David Corchia the Chief Executive officer EREN RE commented: “We wish to express our gratitude and thanks to the organisations and individuals who made the construction of the largest solar power in East Africa possible.

“As a global renewable energy independent power producers, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the African power sector and we look forward to replicating this model in other districts in Uganda and even in many other African countries.”

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.