Enel starts construction of Ngonye solar project, its first power plant in Zambia 

Published on Thursday, 23 August 2018

“The start of construction of Ngonye solar plant is a new milestone in the strengthening of the Enel Group’s presence in the African continent, where we already are the first private renewable operator in terms of installed capacity. Ngonye, with its clean, sustainable and reliable power, will play a significant role in helping Zambia to meet its electrification goals, demonstrating once again that renewable utility-scale power plants are the most effective solution to give access to electricity in the continent”

– Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Enel’s Global Renewable Energies Division, Enel Green Power

The Enel Group will be investing around 40 million US dollars in the construction of Ngonye, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019. In June, the Enel Group signed with IDC a financing agreement of around 34 million US dollars for the construction of the PV plant, involving senior loans of up to 10 million US dollars from the International Financing Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, up to 12 million US dollars from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program and up to 11.75 million US dollars from the European Investment Bank (EIB).  

Ngonye solar plant, which will be owned by a special purpose vehicle 80% held by EGP and 20% by IDC, is supported by a 25-year power purchase agreement signed with Zambia’s state owned utility ZESCO. Once fully up and running, the facility is expected to produce around 70 GWh per year, avoiding the annual emission of over 45,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Zambia, which features an average annual growth in electricity consumption of around 5-6% and a significant need to diversify its energy generation mix dominated by hydro, aims to increase the security and quality of supply, while encouraging the electrification of rural areas. For this reason, Zambia’s government launched a series of initiatives to promote the development of renewables, with a particular focus on photovoltaic power, setting the goal of installing up to 600 MW of solar power within the next two to three years. In this framework, IDC launched a tender for the development of two PV projects with a total capacity of up to 100 MW structured according to the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar programme, with the International Finance Corporation acting as advisor.