LUSAKA, February 22, 2017 – The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation have approved a financing package of up to $36.5 million for the West Lunga Scaling Solar Energy Project. “The joint IDA and IFC project addresses Zambia’s current power shortages by increasing the reliability and security of electricity supplies and putting Zambia on a path towards sustainable energy,” said Ina Ruthenberg, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.
Zambia needs to diversify its electricity generation resources in order to prepare for electricity supply security against climate variability. Zambia’s current high dependence on hydropower generation (over 90 percent of total generation) makes the country’s energy supply particularly vulnerable to climate change events in the form of reduced or delayed rainfalls, as was experienced between 2014 and 2016. This led to significant power cuts, which in turn put pressure on Zambia’s economic growth.
Due to its geographical position and relatively high solar irradiation through much of the year, Zambia has great potential for integrating solar energy into the electricity generation mix. Some off-grid solar projects have already been implemented successfully in the country, however, opportunities for large scale grid connected solar photo-voltaic (PV) development remained unexploited so far.
The project will finance the construction, operation, and maintenance of a new 55 megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant to be located in the Multi-Facility Economic Zone south of Lusaka, Zambia. It will be developed by the Bangweulu Power Company jointly owned by Neone of France, First Solar of the United States of America, and Industrial Development Corporation of Zambia.
Using Scaling Solar with a competitive and transparent procurement process and adequate risk mitigation products, the Government of Zambia (GRZ) attracted world class developers and obtained some of the lowest tariffs for solar PV generation in Sub Saharan Africa to date.
”The project will not only assist ZESCO to reduce costly emergency power imports with competitively priced electricity from the solar PV power plant and optimize hydropower use,” said Mirlan Aldayarov, Senior Energy Specialist and Arnaud Braud, Senior Infrastructure Finance Specialist of the World Bank Group. “It will also support the Government of the Republic of Zambia to attract private capital to increase and diversify Zambia’s electricity generation mix thereby hedging against the risks of climatic and hydrological variability.”