Blue Energy to develop African solar project

The Blue Energy solar PV company is helping to finance and develop one of the biggest solar farms in the world, the 155MW Nzema project in Ghana

There are hopes it could start an energy revolution in West Africa. Ghana's 2011 Renewable Energy Act established a system of Feed-in Tariffs and last month the country's Energy Minister, Joe Oteng-Adjei, announced he was seeking $1 billion of private investment to help Ghana meet its renewables target. Blue Energy's project will be the first such development to go ahead under the act and only three solar PV plants in operation around the world today are bigger.

It is expected that the Nzema solar farm will be fully operational by 2015 and Blue Energy has plans for more renewable power plants in West Africa with a number of projects already in the pipeline. Nzema has a high level of solar radiation and is close to a major road network. It is also within easy reach of the deep water port at Takoradi and will be directly connected to the 161kV West African Power Pool transmission line which links Ghana to the Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The solar plant will ultimately consist of over 630,000 solar PV modules to be installed from the end of 2013 with electricity generation expected to start early in 2014. The farm should reach full generation capacity by October 2015.

The project is expected to create at least 500 jobs over the two-year construction period as well providing a significant boost to the economy of Western Ghana. It should also stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy through sub-contracting with another 200 permanent jobs when it becomes operational.

"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. 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."

Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa enjoying a 14.4% growth in 2011. So far, much of the country's power generation has come from hydro-electric but this is suffering from drought and lack of available generating capacity is starting to restrict growth in the economy. Blue Energy is now at the point where it is ready to conclude the necessary discussions with investors and expects to reach financial closure on the project in early 2013.

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