This 500MW solar project
in the U.S. is the same
size as the one to be
built in Namibia
 
Dallas, United States — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 27 October 2011 – An American-based investment group has secured a power purchase agreement with the government of Namibia for the construction of a 500-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power plant near the capital city of Windhoek.

Revealing this in a statement issued here, the group said that once built, the plant would represent the largest solar installation in this part of Africa, and could eventually include wind generation and grow up to 1 gigawatt (GW).

Led by Washington-based project developer SSI Energy Solutions (SSIES), the group is the parent company of Africa Energy Corporation, which was set up for the Namibia project. Partners in the project include former SunEdison CEO Jigar Shah; Tom Amis and Nik Patesh of clean-energy law firm Cooley LLP; Eric Henderson of the Beacon Group; and Adam Stern and Gary Kleiman of The Gemstone Group.

They are now working to strike a deal with an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. According to the company, construction costs are expected to be between US$1.6 and US$2 billion. Once a deal is in place, the company says it can break ground in January, with a plan for completion within between one and two years.

The project is far bigger than any solar project currently online in the southern hemisphere. South Africa, which borders Namibia, has earned the most interest in the region for large-scale developments.

Namibia, which gained its independence from South Africa in 1990, is known for its stable democratically elected parliament, and was seen by the group as ideal for a development of this size.

The nation of more than 2 million residents relies heavily on coal imports from its neighbours – South Africa to the south and Botswana to the east. However, shortages have strained the economy. The new project could position the Namibian government, which will control the utility, to use electricity from the project to power municipalities and mining operations, as well as ports and airport facilities.