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Africa’s Largest Solar Power Plant To Be In Ghana

155 MW is big. That’s a huge power plant. And that’s the size of the power plant planned for construction in Ghana. It will be the largest solar power plant in Africa when completed, which should be in October 2015. It will also be one of the largest in the world.

Conceptual rendering of 155MW Nzema solar power plant in Ghana.

The UK’s Blue Energy is the company behind this behemoth of a solar power plant. It has projected that the project will create hundreds of jobs in Ghana (200 permanent jobs and 500 jobs at the height of construction). Additionally, it should boost Ghana’s electricity capacity by 6%.

A Blue Energy solar power plant near Swindon (UK), which may become the first community-owned solar farm in the UK. (Photo Credit: adrian arbib / Alamy/Alamy)

“Construction on the Nzema project is due to begin near the village of Aiwiaso in western Ghana by the end of 2013, with the installation of some 630,000 PV modules,” the UK’s Guardian writes.

“The power plant, which at the time of planning would be the fourth biggest of its kind in the world, will be the first major scheme to claim payments from Ghana’s feed-in tariff incentive scheme, created by the government in 2011. Ghana has a target of increasing renewable energy capacity from its current 1% of the country’s energy mix to 10% by 2020.”

“Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa,” Chris Dean, chief executive of Blue Energy, said. ”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.”

It’s good to see that the African leader is turning to renewable energy already. As I’ve noted many times, solar is a clear leapfrogging technology that will allow developing countries to bypass dirty energy options such as coal and natural gas. Notably, the average CO2 emissions of a Ghanian is only 0.4 tonnes at the moment, compared to 8.5 tonnes for the average Brit and 17.2 tonnes for the average American (based on 2009 figures).

Blue Energy created subsidiary Mere Power Nzema Ltd. to complete the project. Development of the project began back in 2010. The company has not yet determined the source of the solar modules, but intends to have a competitive process for determining that in the coming months. “The project is currently expecting to use a single supplier,” Mere Power Nzema project director Douglas Coleman says.

Coleman adds: “The location was chosen for three reasons. One is stable irradiation levels, which are very good in the region generally. The stability of the network which is adjacent to the project, 30 meters away, with sufficient capacity available in the network to allow us to inject the load. And finally close proximity to the deep water port of Takoradi, in the west of Ghana, given that the majority of components will be imported, because there is very little domestic manufacture or the components that we’ll need.”

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