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100MW PV-plus-storage feasibility study for Mozambique airport project backed with USTDA grant

US Ambassador Dean Pittman with WHN Solar CEO and director Ntanzi Carrilho, signing the grant. Image: USTDA.

Just a few months after Mozambique’s first ever large-scale PV project reached financial close and construction work began, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has awarded a grant to pay for a feasibility study for a new project of up to 100MW capacity.

USTDA announced late last week that a grant has been signed by the US Ambassador to Mozambique, Dean Pittman, with South African solar developer WHN Solar. WHN Solar has in turn contracted US-headquartered engineering, environment and consulting firm HDR International, to conduct the feasibility study.

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A ceremony was held in Maputo, the African country’s capital hosting the document’s signing. As well as examining the viability of the 100MW PV project, to be built in 20MW-40MW phases and expected by USTDA to include “an associated energy storage facility”, the overall aims of the study will include looking at wider issues surrounding development of the grid in Mozambique.

The grid in and around the city of Nacala in particular suffers from “a lack of sufficient generation capacity and stability issues,” USTDA said in a statement, adding that the energy storage portion of the project, as yet unspecified in size, design and technology type, can help with stabilising the grid. The 100MW solar-plus-storage facility is expected to be built at Nacala International Airport, northeastern Mozambique.

“We wish to thank USTDA for its contribution to the development of this pioneering project. With USTDA's support, we hope to improve the quality and security of power supply in the region, with a positive impact on local communities,” WHN Solar CEO and director Ntanzi Carrilho said.

USTDA is pleased to support this important project that will help diversify Mozambique’s energy generation mix. At the same time, the project represents business opportunities for U.S. companies in a key sector in Mozambique,” USTDA acting regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Paul Marin said.

In March, PV Tech reported that Scatec Solar, KLP Norfund Investments and Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM) had reached financial close with debt financing for a 40MW solar PV plant in the Mocuba district of Mozambique and that construction work had already begun. A 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) was signed back in 2016 for that project. has reported on other recent activities by USTDA to support energy storage in developing regions and markets including Africa. In April 2017, for example, USTDA awarded US$1.1 million (Sh113 million) to Nairobi-based Xago Africa for the development of a utility-scale solar-plus-storage facility in Kenya. In September of that year the agency also supported South Africa’s main utility, Eskom, in a trial of flow battery energy storage systems from Primus Power.       

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