Gambia is seeking private power producers (PPPs) to develop two solar power plants with a total capacity of 10.5 MW. A call for tenders has recently been launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a call for expressions of interest for the construction of two solar power plants in BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer), a specific form of public-private partnership (PPP). The first plant will be located near Farafenni, a town on the Trans-Gambia Highway near the border with Senegal. The 7 MW facility will be equipped with a battery for energy storage.
With 3.5 MW of installed capacity, the second solar park will be built in the locality of Lower Santa Su, on the south bank of the Gambia River. The plant will not require any energy storage facilities. Private power producers (IPPs) interested in the UNDP call for tenders have until April 23, 2019 to apply.
The selected companies will negotiate and then sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Gambia National Water & Electric Company (NAWEC), the company that provides the electricity utility. After 20 years of operation (duration of the EPC), the two solar power plants will return to the Gambian State.
The UNDP announcement comes at a time when a renewable energy development programme is being launched in The Gambia. Recently, the government’s initiative has received support from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The two financial institutions have released a total of 164 million euros.
According to the Gambian government, the country has significant investment opportunities in the energy sector. The total installed capacity is 125 megawatts (MW) and the actual generation is approximately 75 MW, which is approximately 40 MW less than current demand. About 53% of Gambians do not have access to electricity. “This means that there is significant potential for growth in the energy market,” says the Ministry of Energy. Recent legislation (the Electricity Act of 2004, editor’s note) has partially liberalised the energy market. More specifically, electricity production is open to investors. Transmission and distribution remain the exclusive responsibility of the government, as is customary in many African countries. As part of the new programme, NAWEC is developing a project to build a 20 MW solar power plant and a 430 km transmission line. Infrastructure that will provide electricity to 1,100 schools and health centres in several regions of The Gambia.