A competition run by Access Power called the ‘Access Co-Development Facility’ (ACF) has officially closed. Five entrepreneurs have made it as the runner ups for the innovative $7 million funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa.
According to a company statement, the projects were selected from a pool of 82 qualifying projects from across the continent, representing a full spectrum of renewable energy technologies.
The facility is now on its third edition this year and is being deployed in partnership with EREN Renewable Energy.
The five shortlisted projects include:
- Zimbabwe: 75MW Kadoma Solar PV project
- Tanzania: 30MW Kondoa Solar PV project
- Rwanda: 9,7MW Rukarara Hydro project
- Ethiopia: 75MW Beseka Solar project
- Ghana: 48MW Winneba Wind project
The successfully shortlisted projects will progress to the final stage of the evaluation process where they will have the opportunity to present their projects to a panel of industry experts, comprised of senior representatives from Power Africa, InfraCo Africa, Proparco, the Dutch Development Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Access Power at the Africa Energy Forum in Copenhagen on June 7, 2017.
A maximum of three projects will be selected to win a share of the prize.
Sustainable renewable energy projects
With the topic of rural electrification in the spotlight during the recent World Economic Forum Africa Summit, as one of the key catalysts for economic growth, the ACF is creating a route to market for sustainable energy projects that can combat energy poverty and provide long-term economic growth throughout the continent, the company noted.
From the 23 countries represented in this year’s edition, 18 have rural electrification rates below 30%, further highlighting the challenges faced by many African nations in providing power to those communities.
West Africa is a region that has been highlighted as a key growth area for renewable energy technologies.
This was reflected in this year’s applications with over a third of all projects originating from Ghana and Nigeria.
Nearly a quarter of project applications hailed from Nigeria, home of the ACF 2015 winning 50MW Abiba solar project, as well as the 2016 ACF winner, a 50MW Lagos wind project.
According to Access Power, the Abiba solar project is approaching financial closure while the Lagos wind project is into the development phase.
Meanwhile across the Rift Valley, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda combined make up over a quarter of total project applications in a clear illustration of east Africa’s unique combination of favourable geographical conditions and an increasingly supportive regulatory environment for renewable energy.
Low carbon energy development
Southern Africa has also been well represented with a 75MW solar PV plant from Zimbabwe being shortlisted.
Zimbabwe in particular is highlighted to be a country with high yet largely untapped solar irradiance, representing an important opportunity for low carbon energy development in a country where only 33% of the population have access to electricity.
For the third year in a row, solar projects formed the largest share of projects with just shy of 50% of all submissions, the company noted.
However, there was a diverse split across the remaining project technologies, with increases in the percentage of wind and hybrid technology projects compared to the previous year, demonstrating the ability of the ACF to attract projects of all sizes and across geographies and technologies.
Access Power managing director Vahid Fotuhi, commented: “The ACF 2017 is a unique platform that we at Access Power are truly proud of and one that continues to grow. This year’s applications reflect the changing renewable energy landscape across the continent and reemphasise the need for a platform like the ACF, which provides support and funding for exciting projects that have the opportunity to change communities, livelihoods and drive economic growth.”
Fotuhi added: “It is no coincidence that many of this year’s applications have come from countries with low [rural] electrification rates and increasing support for driving access to power across Africa further highlights the value of the programme.”
Vice-President business development – Africa, EREN Renewable Energy, Christophe Fleurence, also commented: “As it channels international support to promote African talents and opportunities in countries with high growth potential, the ACF demonstrates how local entrepreneurs, private investors and public stakeholders can successfully work together to close bankable, affordable and sustainable power projects.
“The ACF perfectly illustrates EREN Renewable Energy’s commitment to supporting renewable energy in Africa through innovative ways. After commissioning the Soroti solar power plant in Uganda this year, we have started the construction of a captive hybrid solar project for a mining company in Burkina Faso.
“In addition, we are continuing our efforts to deploy rural electrification solutions through a transformational technology developed by our partner, Winch Energy.”