British firm to build ‘Africa’s biggest solar plant’

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British firm to build 'Africa's biggest solar plant'

A large-scale solar power plant in Costa Rica, pictured last month © AFP Rodrigo Arangua

LONDON – (AFP) – British renewable energy firm Blue Energy announced Tuesday that it will build a giant solar power plant in Ghana which it claimed will become the biggest in Africa.

“Blue Energy is to build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant”, the company said in a statement, in a move “which could spark a renewable energy revolution in west Africa”.

The 155-megawatt Nzema plant, costing $400 million (305 million euros) to build, will be fully operational in 2015. Blue Energy said there were currently only three other PV plants in the world that are bigger.

The plant will increase Ghana’s current power generating capacity by six percent and will meet 20 percent of the government’s target of generating 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

“There’s huge potential to develop renewable power in the region. We believe Nzema will show other countries what can be achieved and then spur them to action,” said Blue Energy chief executive Chris Dean.

Blue Energy, which is majority owned and funded by members of the Stadium Group, a private asset and development company, said it had secured all the permissions it required to go ahead with the project.

The firm said it planned to develop further renewable energy power plants in west Africa and had “a number of projects in the pipeline”.

The announcement comes after two German firms, Bosch and Siemens, said they were quitting the ambitious Desertec project to build solar power plants across North Africa and the Middle East, dealing a blow to Europe’s clean energy plans.

Desertec aimed to generate some 15 percent of Europe’s electricity consumption with solar and wind energy within the next 40 years.

The project was launched in 2009 by several German companies including Munich Re, Deutsche Bank, as well as energy giants E.ON and RWE.

French, Italian and Spanish companies also took stakes in an initial investment of 400 billion euros ($525 billion).

Morocco is building a solar complex set to open in 2014 and will generate between 125 and 160 megawatts.


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