The European Investment Bank (EIB) has joined international lenders to support the extension of utility-scale solar plants in South Africa and the nascent solar photovoltaics (PV) industry in Nigeria.

Eskom and EIB have signed a €75 million loan for a 100MSW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant at Upington in the Northern Cape.

Co-financed with the African Development Bank, Agençe Française de Développement, the Clean Technology Fund, KfW and the World Bank, Eskom says the plant will help the state utility widen its energy portfolio.

Ayanda Nakedi, senior general manager for renewables at Eskom, said: “Eskom is committed to investing in projects that will diversify our energy mix, including renewable resources.

“The potential to deploy CSP technologies on a large scale is promising, and we are pleased to have taken another step forward in funding our Upington solar plant with this loan agreement.”

The EIB has provided funding for other projects in Eskom’s capital programme, providing a total of €220 million for neighbouring Ka Xu CSP plant.

Pim van Ballekom, vice president of European Investment Bank, said the bank is looking forward to continued engagement in South Africa under a new mandate agreed earlier in the year.

Nigeria’s solar future

Meanwhile in Nigeria, the West African country’s short-term plan for an additional 500MW of solar PV by 2015 is being backed by a consortium of the EIB, the Global Environment Facility, the African Development Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction Development in partnership with the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) for renewable energy investments.

CIF has already confirmed approval of US$25 million to the African Development Bank for the development of Nigeria’s solar PV plan.

The funding is part of the US$50 million CIF has approved for Nigeria for the promotion of renewable energy.

The funding comes as international renewable developer SkyPower FAS, a joint venture between Canadian company SkyPower and US firm FAS, has signed a US$5 billion deal with the Federal government and the Delta State government for the development of 3,000MW of solar PV over the next five years.

SkyPower FAS will develop the utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects as part of the country’s Transformation Agenda blueprint, which is a US$12 billion power sector strategy to increase generation, transmission and distribution of renewable energy.