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Gigawatt Global Coöperatief has begun construction of its 7.5MW solar PV plant in Mubuga, Gitega province, in Burundi. The project is the first on-grid independent power producer (IPP) project in the country as well as the first on-grid project supported by the United Kingdom government-funded Renewable Energy Performance Platform, which is managed by Camco Clean Energy.
In a statement, Camco said that “it is hoped the success of the venture will pave the way for further foreign investment into the country’s renewable energy sector by demonstrating the government’s increased capacity – and willingness – to enter into bankable power purchase arrangements”.
The REPP has been funding development of the project since December 2016 and has committed to providing a bridge loan for construction. The bridge loan will be refinanced once commercial operations begin as a ten-year subordinated loan. Inspired Evolution Investment Management’s Evolution II Fund is providing a matching bridge loan as well as investing equity. Gigawatt Global is also providing equity for the project.
Gigawatt signed a memorandum of understanding with Burundi’s Ministry of Energy and Mines in July 2014 to develop a solar project and received funding from the United States Trade and development Agency in March 2015 for technical and economic studies as well as an environmental and social impact assessment. The Energy and Environment Partnership and Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries supported the project in its early stages.
“Today’s announcement is a landmark moment for Burundi’s energy sector – once built the solar plant will add nearly 15% to the generation capacity of its grid using clean energy”, Camco managing director Geoff Sinclair said. Burundi’s power sector currently relies heavily on hydropower and diesel power plants.