On Wednesday, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Sierra Leonean power producer, Solar Era Holdings (SL) Limited, to facilitate the development of a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and a PV-thermal hybrid project near Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone.
The development agency noted in a statement that the projects will contribute towards a reliable generation output, while expanding the rate of energy access across the country – only 13% of the population currently has access.
Present at the signing, Sierra Leonean Minister of Energy Henry Macauley commented: “We are proud to embark on such a renewable energy project, which will help us as a country exit from the statistics of 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa without electricity.”
USTDA to support increase access
The two-phase project will include a 5MW solar PV plant and a PV-diesel hybrid facility of at least 20MW. This hybrid option will address problems with intermittency and stability, bringing new power online to better manage electricity demand.
U.S. Ambassador John Hoover, who signed the grant agreement along with Albert Smith from Solar Era, commented: “The United States is proud to help bring new renewable energy to Sierra Leone.
“By delivering reliable power, this project helps to lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth for all Sierra Leoneans.”
Smith added: “Solar Era is grateful for the support of USTDA, which comes at a critical moment.
“By delivering power in Baoma Chiefdom to the Bo-Kenema transmission line, this project will play a key role in the economic development of the region.”
The feasibility study will be conducted by Power Engineers Incorporated (Hailey, Idaho), an engineering consulting firm specialising in power generation and transmission. They will provide the information and analysis necessary to support Solar Era’s efforts to implement the project on a commercially viable and sustainable basis, according to the USDTA.
This project advances the goals of Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to increase electricity access across sub-Saharan Africa.