Enel Green Power brings online its first power plant in Zambia

Published on Monday, 29 April 2019

“With the connection to the grid of Ngonye in Zambia, we are reconfirming our commitment to helping the country leverage on its vast wealth of renewable resources, which poses a great opportunity for growth. Through this project we are boosting the government’s ambitious push to improve access to electricity throughout the country, while diversifying its generation mix to hedge against severe drought and climate change effects. This successful project also confirms that effectively-designed development programmes, like Scaling Solar, are key to attracting private renewable investments in Africa”

–  Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Enel Green Power

The Ngonye solar plant, which is 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, while avoiding the annual emission of over 25,600 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The Enel Group invested approximately 40 million US dollars in the construction of Ngonye. In June 2018, Enel signed a financing agreement with IDC 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). 

Zambia has a significant need to diversify its energy generation mix, currently dominated by hydro, with the aim to increase the security and quality of supply by meeting the country’s growing electricity consumption 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. At the same time, Zambia’s Government launched another tender for an additional 100 MW of PV to be awarded under the GET FiT solar framework.