|Workers at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park near Dubai. Photo credit: First Solar.|
By Rebecca Clark
Neoen S.A.S, the leading French renewable energy company and First Solar, Inc. have bid for and successfully won the new large-scale energy project in Zambia. This project, which has a generating capacity of 47.5 megawatts (MW), was awarded to the consortium by Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation at an astonishing rate of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour which is the lowest tariff in the region to date.
“Neoen is very proud to bring solar power to Zambia at such ground-breaking prices. We believe that solar energy can further accelerate Zambia’s growth, and we are ready to develop a whole portfolio of reliable, competitive solar plants across the country,” commented Xavier Barbaro, CEO of Neoen.
Neoen, an independent company founded in 2008, is the brain child of French entrepreneur, Mr Jacques Veyrat. Shareholders of Neoen include OMNES Capital and Bpifrance. Neoen has developed and built renewable energy plants in many countries around the world including Portugal and Mexico. First Solar, Inc. is a leading producer of photovoltaic solar systems that provide an economical substitute for fossil fuels.
“By partnering with Neoen and First Solar, Zambia stands to gain from over 14 gigawatts (GW) of global renewable energy experience. And it is this combined experience that will deliver a world-class power generation asset,” said Nasim Khan, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Africa. “Significantly, this project shatters the misperception that low-cost energy cannot be delivered with high quality, high-performance modules.”
The power plant, due to be finished around the middle of 2017, will be located in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone and shall be named after Zambia’s West Lunga National Park. The energy produced by the facility shall be supplied to ZESCO, which is the state-owned utility company, for an agreed 25 year period.
The facility, set to span the area of 73 football pitches, will eradicate the need for the consumption of millions of litres of water by traditional energy production due specifically to the technology of photovoltaic (PV) solar power. The technology allows a higher performance and energy yield due to the systems provided by First Solar, Inc. in replacement of previously used crystalline silicon PV panels. This equipment allows for energy production to flourish in warm and humid climates, perfect for Zambia and its energy users.
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