Globeleq, Africa’s independent power producer, and the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), the infrastructure development and finance organisation, have officially broken ground on a 9MWp solar and 7MWh storage power project at Cuamba in northern Mozambique, bringing clean power and jobs to the region.
Globeleq is majority owned by CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution (DFI) and impact investor.
The USD32 million project marks a major milestone as it will be one of the first IPP grid-scale storage plants in sub-Saharan Africa. The Cuamba Solar project will provide clean energy to 18,000 households and support job creation in Niassa, one of the country’s poorest provinces with an electrification rate of just over 20 per cent.
The project will increase Mozambique’s insufficient power supply by adding clean energy to the Northern grid. By combining grid-connected solar with a battery storage component, the project will help solve network management issues and, by allowing some of the solar power to be shifted to different times of the day, helps avoid transmission losses from distant existing sources of supply.
The technology for battery storage is nascent and uptake of utility scale solutions remains limited globally. Currently, grants and concessional finance are often required to demonstrate the value of this emerging, but potentially transformative technology. Together with PIDG, CDC Plus (CDC’s technical assistance facility), has provided a grant to Globeleq for the 2MW/7MWh storage solution alongside the 19MWp of solar power. In line with CDC’s ambition to catalyse uptake of storage solutions across Sub-Saharan Africa, CDC Plus will also provide support to capture and disseminate learnings around the battery component’s operational, economic, and development impact.
Globeleq has been actively developing the project since 2019 alongside its local partners, Source Energia and Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), the state-owned electricity company, which also is the off-taker for the power.
The Mozambique Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Dr Ernesto Max Tonela, Nnenne Iwuji, the British High Commissioner to Mozambique and Aud Marit Wiig, the Norwegian Ambassador were key guests at the event.
Chris Chijiutomi, Head of Infrastructure Equity, CDC Group says: “Providing access to power is an essential part of driving economic development across Africa. We acquired Globeleq in 2015 with 1,200MW of operational power plants. Today, Globeleq has more than 1,400 MW operational power plants in 28 locations across six countries, with a further 305 MW in construction and more than 500 MW due to reach financial close in 2021, of which Cuamba is a part.
“We are delighted to be supporting Mozambique’s demand for new renewable energy supply across the country; 7 in 10 people in Mozambique today do not have access to electricity and 53% of firms report electrical outages. Robust storage technologies are fundamental for the transition to clean energy. CDC will continue to devote our capital and technical expertise to innovative uses in the power sector, focused on the path to sustainable energy systems for inclusive growth in our Africa markets.”
Jonathan Hoffman, Globeleq’s Chief Development Officer, says: “This project is a trailblazer for future utility-scale energy storage in Mozambique and the region. Cuamba Solar Power, along with all our energy projects we are working on, cements our ongoing commitment to contribute to the long-term energy security and development of the country on a low carbon pathway.”
Emilio Cattaneo, Head of PIDG TA, says: “Promoting battery storage solutions alongside green, renewable electricity generation plants is of enormous importance to Africa’s economic development and the world’s efforts to manage climate change. Mozambique is leading positive change and PIDG is proud to be involved with bringing the new plant to life.”
Nnenne Iwuji, British High Commissioner to Mozambique, says: “The UK Government is proud to be working through CDC and Globeleq to bring much needed power to this part of the country. We hope that this pioneering Cuamba Solar Power Project with innovative technology can be replicated throughout the region with the aim of bringing access to energy for all. The UK Government is actively partnering with Mozambique on the development of its renewable energy potential, through investments such as this, as well as through our BRILHO-Energy Africa programme which encourages private sector investment in off-grid energy solutions. The UK looks forward to continuing to work closely with Mozambique in the run-up to COP26 and beyond, to identify and support opportunities for sustainable, long-term green growth, investment and jobs.”