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UK-based renewable energy company, Blue Energy, has announced that it is to build Africa's largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Ghana
The US$400mn, 155 MW Nzema project will be one of the biggest in the world and will reportedly be able to supply around 100,000 homes.
According to a company statement, the Nzema plant will be built by Blue Energy subsidiary, Mere Power Nzema, on a 183-hectare site close to the village of Aiwiaso in Western Ghana.
It has secured a 100-year lease on the site as well as planning permission and permission to connect to the grid.
The site enjoys good solar radiation, has excellent access to the major road system and is within easy reach of a deep water port at Takoradi.
The plant will be directly connected to the 161kV West African Power Pool transmission line, which runs alongside the site, linking Ghana to Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, and has available capacity for its load.
The installation of more than 630,000 solar PV modules will begin by the end of 2013 and electricity generation will start early in 2014, with sections coming on stream as they are completed. The project is due to reach full capacity by October 2015.
The plant will increase Ghana's current generating capacity by six per cent, according to the statement, and will account for a fifth of the government's target of generating 10 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The statement added that the Nzema project would be the first to go ahead under Ghana's 2011 Renewable Energy Act and is set to be fully operational in 2015.
Blue Energy also stated its plans to develop further renewable energy power plants in West Africa.
“Ghana's forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Chris Dean, CEO of Blue Energy.
“Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa.
“We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.
“There's huge potential to develop renewable power in the region. We believe Nzema will show other countries what can be achieved and spur them to action.”
Blue Energy has secured all the regulatory consents it needs to go ahead with the project and has been awarded a generation licence and a feed-in tariff for the plant's 20-year operational life.
Blue Energy expects to conclude discussions with a number of parties, which are interested in providing debt financing or investing in the project, in the first half of 2013.