Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) on Thursday signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a United Arab Emirates-based solar energy developer for an additional 21 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
The company, Phanes Energy Renewables Nkhotakota Limited, which will start producing solar powered energy in the next five months, will run for 20 to 25 years after which it will be able to make adjustments to the plants to enable it produce power more effectively and efficiently.
Speaking after signing the PPA, Escom chief executive officer Allexon Chiwaya said the utility provider is on the right track to ensure that it eliminates power outages.
He said: “We have, since the unbundling of Escom, allowed power producers to invest in Malawi. We also want to exploit energy mix, for instance, using solar as we have witnessed today.
“According to our roadmap, this is just the beginning towards ensuring that very soon the country sees a permanent end to electricity blackouts but also in line with our objective to reach close to 30 percent of the population with access to electricity by 2030.”
Data from Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) show that currently, combined installed generation capacity is 411.60MW and the available generation capacity is 342.05MW.
Demand for electricity in the country, however, continues to grow rapidly owing to population growth and the development of various projects in the construction, mining and manufacturing sectors.
But Chiwaya said the country is on the right track to meet the growing demand. He said going forward, the country’s generation capacity will meet the demand.
“Right now, we are not load shedding and if we assume that demand for power is constant, then soon we should be above the demand,” he said.
Without disclosing the amount invested in the project, Phanes Group head of project development Alessandro Ortu said the company brings change the country’s power sector, guaranteeing an improvement in the country’s power supply.
“We are delighted to be part of the change in Malawi’s power sector by bringing more power to ease the power shortages experienced in the country. We have already started clearing land and soon we will be going into planting of the solar panels,” he said.
Ortu said the solar power plant will be planted on a 50-60 hectares in Nkhotakota.
The project is expected to fit into the national power grid because of power infrastructure built under the $350.7 million (about K257 billion) energy compact from the United States of America government agency, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which has helped to modernise transmission and distribution infrastructure, whose projects ended last year.