Largest solar plant in East Africa begins operation

Ugo Okoro

The Soroti 10 megawatt solar plant

East Africa’s largest solar plant has begun operations in Soroti, Uganda

Made up of 32,680 photovoltaic panels, the new 10 megawatt facility is the country’s first grid-connected solar plant and will generate clean, low-carbon, sustainable electricity to 40,000 homes, schools and businesses in the area.

The project was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (“GET FiT”) (www.GetFiT-Uganda.org), a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by Germany’s KfW Development Bank in partnership with Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA) and funded by the governments of Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The GET FiT programme helps renewable energy sources become more affordable and therefore more accessible in Eastern Africa.

The $19m Soroti Solar Plant is in part funded by the European Union – Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund through the GET FiT Solar Facility equivalent to 8.7 million euros in the form of result-based premium payments per kWh of delivered electricity.

The project is financed by a mix of debt and equity with the senior debt facility being provided by FMO (www.FMO.nl), the Netherlands Development Bank, and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) (www.EAIF.com).  

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Uganda’s Minister of State for Energy, Ambassadors from the EU, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as key stakeholders from Access Power and EREN RE; TSK, the contractor who built the plant; FMO and Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) (www.PIDG.org) company The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) as financiers, and other key officials.

Located on a 33 acre plot of land in Soroti District, the power plant has the potential to increase its net output capacity by a further 20MW of solar energy.

At peak construction the plant had over 120 local workers involved, including engineers recruited and trained by Access Power and EREN RE.