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Malawi: 60MW solar plant to end blackouts

In December 2018, Malawian President Peter Mutharika launched the construction of a 60MW solar plant at Kanzimbe in Salima, a township in the central region of the country.

The solar project is going to be spearheaded by JCM Matswana Solar Energy and will sell the generated power to Escom after the power purchase agreement has been concluded, reports Nyasa Times.

Mutharika assured the nation that the new solar plant is one step towards ending the blackouts.

“The problem with the energy sector is due to ignorance that the previous governments had towards the sector in the last 50 years, but our government has lined up a number of investments some of which will involve the private sector while others will be Public Private Partnership,” he said.

According to media, the President said among the projects which seek to give short, medium and long term solutions to the energy woes will include wind energy and the Kammwamba coal powered plant.

Charlie Farrow, MD of Welland Power, a manufacturer of generators in the UK, commented: “Huge solar plants such as this one in Malawi are great news for the country. Investment in solar gives an environmentally friendly boost to the grid, which will help reduce the country’s imports of capital equipment like diesel generators.”

History of blackouts

The minister of energy, mines and natural resources, Aggrey Masi, said overdependence on Shire River as a source of hydroelectricity and lack of plans by previous governments to develop the energy sector have contributed heavily to the current blackouts.

“The current administration has worked hard to ensure that these problems are history and the major undertaking towards boosting the sector were the review of the energy policy where among others we have opened for energy mix and allowed the private sector to invest in energy,” said Masi.

The minister guaranteed that the country’s new energy policy will allow for more players in the sector to participate in power generation.

Masi said the government will come up with short, medium and long term measures to end the blackouts.

“The short-term measure is the use of generators, and power purchase from Mozambique and Zambia, while medium-term includes the completion of Kammwamba and Mpatamanga electricity sites and the long-term measure will include discussions with Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania on power interconnection,” he said.

“We are thankful that the country has created an enabling environment for investors to invest in the sector and it is so good that we have the power purchase agreement with Escom, which has been concluded,” said JCM Power Malawi country director, Phylip Leferink.