East Africa’s Largest Solar Plant Starts Operations

Made up of 32,680 photovoltaic panels, the new 10 megawatt facility is the country’s first grid-connected solar plant and will generate clean, low-carbon, sustainable electricity to 40,000 homes, schools and businesses in the area

Honorable D’Ujanga Simon, Minister of State for Energy, together with representatives of Access Power, EREN RE and donors celebrated the inauguration of the solar power plant in Soroti.

Made up of 32,680 photovoltaic panels, the new 10 megawatt facility is the country’s first grid-connected solar plant and will generate clean, low-carbon, sustainable electricity to 40,000 homes, schools and businesses in the area.

The project was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (GET FiT), a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by Germany’s KfW Development Bank in partnership with Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA) and funded by the governments of Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The GET FiT programme helps renewable energy sources become more affordable and therefore more accessible in Eastern Africa.

The US$19 million Soroti Solar Plant is in part funded by the European Union – Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund through the GET FiT Solar Facility equivalent to 8.7 million euros in the form of result-based premium payments per kWh of delivered electricity.

“Uganda is a good place to invest in solar energy. The regulatory framework is conducive and Government rightly recognises Uganda’s energy future must be renewable. It is great that this is now triggering private sector interest in solar power generation. The European Union is proud that our grant contribution ensures the realisation of the Soroti Solar Plant, and I hope this is only just the beginning for many more to come,” says European Union Head of Delegation to Uganda Ambassador Kristian Schmidt.

The project is financed by a mix of debt and equity with the senior debt facility being provided by FMO, the Netherlands Development Bank, and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF).

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Uganda’s Minister of State for Energy, Ambassadors from the EU, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as key stakeholders from Access Power and EREN RE; TSK, the contractor who built the plant; FMO and Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) as financiers, and other key officials.

“As a global renewable energy Independent Power Producer we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the African power sector and we look forward to replicating this model in many other African countries in other districts in Uganda and across the region,” David Corchia, CEO, EREN RE, stated.

“The Soroti plant is also one of the eight renewable energy projects in Uganda to have benefited from the UK Aid supported Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) – part of the multilateral Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).  The UK is committed to supporting and improving the lives of Ugandans – with the vast majority (80%) living without access to clean modern energy – helping Uganda leave aid dependency behind,” says Head DFID Uganda Jennie Barugh.

Located on a 33 acre plot of land in Soroti District, the power plant has the potential to increase its net output capacity by a further 20MW of solar energy

At peak construction the plant had over 120 local workers involved, including engineers recruited and trained by Access Power and EREN RE.