Liberia has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israeli clean energy developer Energiya Global Capital for the development of a 10-MW photovoltaic (PV) solar plant.
Energiya Global said it would finance and construct the US$20 million PV plant at Roberts International Airport, about 56 km from capital Monrovia. No timelines were immediately given on when construction was likely to commence.
Energiya CEO Yosef Abramowitz said the company would team up with international partners in the development of the PV plant. When completed, it is projected to supply up to 25% of Liberia’s generating capacity. The project will also form the vanguard in an investment pact signed between Israel and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which pledges to commit US$1 billion for new clean energy projects over the next four or five years.
Energiya did not immediately respond to requests from NewsBase Intelligence (NBI) for additional project information.
The West African nation has one of the lowest electricity access rates on the continent, with fewer than 2% of the population having means of drawing power from the grid – even in Monrovia, access is below 7%.
Currently, Energiya Global, which together with its Dutch partner Gigawatt Global completed sub-Saharan Africa’s first commercial solar scale project in Rwanda, is developing solar fields in at least 10 African countries, with the projects being at different phases of implementation.
“We are prepared to finance and build the first national demonstration solar projects in all Economic Community of West African States-affiliated countries in order to promote political stability and social economic development as well as to advance knowledge transfer,” said Abramowitz, quoted in media reports.
The development of the 10-MW Liberian will be a major achievement for the government of President Shirleaf Johnson, who is currently presiding over an economy that relies more on expensive diesel fuelled power generation sources, and around 23 MW of grid-connected generating capacity said to be available on a daily basis.
The Liberian government hopes to connect up to 70% of the urban population to electricity and another 35% in rural areas by 2030.
In addition to solar development Liberia is also rehabilitating the Mt Coffee hydropower plant (HPP) with the support of the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), following the destruction of the station during the country’s civil war.
The MCC’s US$257 million financing supports the training of electricity technicians, the creation of an independent sector regulator, and a road transport component.
The signing of the MoU between Energiya Global and Liberia coincided with the visit to West Africa by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and could signal emerging interest in the region’s renewable energy sector. Interest has already grown in recent years, attracting a number of international renewable energy developers, many under the 2013 Power Africa multi-partner initiative.