A round-up of progress on energy-generating projects around Southern Africa, with updates of schemes that are either in the pipeline or have been given the green light.
ANGOLA GOES FOR HYDRO AND GAS
Angola is also pursuing low-carbon power generation, although from a source that is becoming increasingly contentious. While hydro projects produce much lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels, they are environmentally destructive and their performance is at the mercy of rainfall fluctuations, which global warming could make more extreme.
While Angola has a patchy record on infrastructure investment, despite its oil revenues, it has sanctioned several large hydro projects, the largest of which is the Laúca plant on the Kwanza River. When all six units are brought on stream they will generate 2,070MW, which is on a par with the biggest hydro scheme in Southern Africa – Cahora Bassa in Mozambique. Laúca’s final two turbines should be operational by the end of this year, seven years after work began on the project.
Brazilian firm Odebrecht is leading the development of the $4.3bn venture. Work on the associated 750km transmission infrastructure was held up when funding from the Brazilian Development Bank was affected by the country’s recent corruption scan-dal. Aurecon is now developing the required interconnectors. Odebrecht is developing two other projects on the same river: the 960MW Cambambe scheme and the 520MW Capanda scheme.
Angola is also investing in gas to support its economic growth plans. The Ministry of Energy and Water has sanctioned a 750MW expansion of the Soyo combined-cycle gas-fired plant by AEnergy and GE, which is due to be completed by 2022.
BOTSWANA’S SOLAR DRIVE
Botswana is among the latest wave of African countries to embrace solar technology.
In March, the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) closed a tender for the financing, development and operation of a dozen photovoltaic (PV) projects to operate as independent power producers, as the BPC seeks to achieve universal electrification over the next decade. Technical details have yet to be revealed. The BPC has to import 71% of its electricity from South Africa, with the remainder coming from its own 600MW Morupule B coal-fired plant. According to US Department of Energy research, Botswana could source 30% of its power from solar PV by 2030.
ZAMBIA’S SCALING SOLAR PROGRAMME
Zambia wants to establish 600MW of solar capacity over the next three years to diversify its energy mix, with multiple projects backed by the World Bank now moving forward.
Enel Green Power – a unit of Italy’s Enel – started operations at the 34MW Ngonye solar photovoltaic plant near Lusaka in April. In June 2018, Enel signed a $34m financing agreement with Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation to build the plant, which comprised senior loans of up to $10m from the International Financing Corporation, up to $12m from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program and up to $11.75m from the European Investment Bank.
Earlier in the year, France’s Neoen and US firm First Solar said they had completed the first of the country’s Scaling Solar projects, a 54MW solar farm costing $60m at Bangweulu. The farm was completed in under a year, following the 2016 auction that launched the programme. Neoen and First Solar’s winning bid of $6.02/kWh was the lowest seen in Africa at that point, according to industry observers.
MOZAMBIQUE’S MIXED STRATEGY
Mozambique is advancing its power capacity expansion on multiple fronts. It has awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of the Cahora Bassa hydro project – which was built in the 1970s – to companies such as Brazil’s Intertechne Consultores and Sweco of Sweden. The plant exports electricity to Zambia, Botswana and South Africa.
In March 2019, the Mozambican government also launched a tender for the contract to provide consultancy services on the long-awaited Mphanda Nkuwa hydro scheme, estimated to cost $2.3bn. Located 60km downstream from Cahora Bassa, the 1,350MW project will receive financial support from China’s Exim Bank.
The Ministry of Mineral Resources said: “The company to be selected will also have to provide the necessary assistance to enable the updating of the technical studies identified as critical, and for the selection of the strategic partner to join the state-owned power utility Electricidade de Moçambique and the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric Plant in the development of project infrastructure.”
Mozambique also wants to build new thermal power plants. In January, Kibo Energy announced plans to complete a feasibility study into the Benga coal-fired independent power provider this year. The plant, which is to be developed with Termoelectrica de Mozambique de Benga, is expected to have a generating capacity of 150-300MW. Maputo has encouraged the construction of coal-fired generation capacity since international mining companies began developing the Tete Province’s huge coal reserves.
Kibo is in talks with prospective offtakers over long-term power purchase agreements, as well as coal suppliers. Kibo Chief Executive Louis Coetzee said: “The fact that we are already discussing commercial power offtake and being able to progressively integrate the outcomes with the technical work of the DFS, allows us to align the power station design accurately with offtakers’ requirements.”
The company is also considering developing solar power capacity, per-haps in order to improve environmental attitudes towards the project. “The integration of renewable technologies is an exciting add-on to the project. We are confident that this, combined with Kibo’s focus on clean-burning, coal-fired power generation, will put the company at the forefront of development in this regard,” said Coetzee.
SOUTH AFRICA’S DELAYED COAL PROJECTS
Renewable energy may be a central plank of South Africa’s medium-term policy for the sector, but in the short term it’s hard to look beyond the massive Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects – two of the world’s largest coal plants and the largest dry-cooled coal-fired facilities anywhere. When complete, each plant will generate 4.8GW, though the final units are still not online.
Completion has been delayed and construction costs have soared to $20bn. Eskom Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe says that an additional R18bn ($1.25bn) is needed to complete the project.
This article is an extract from the Africa Energy Yearbook 2019, a partnership between African Business and EnergyNet.