First-of-its-kind BESS in sub-Saharan Africa commissioned in Malawi

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A solar and storage project totalling 20MW has entered commercial operation in Malawi, which the companies involved say is the first grid-connected utility-scale co-located project to do so in sub-Saharan Africa.

Independent power producer (IPP) JCM Power and infrastructure investor InfraCo Africa have announced that the 20MW Golomoti Solar PV and Battery Energy Storage project in the Dedza district of the country is now online.

The companies said the first-of-its-kind project, which took a little under 12 months to build, marks a milestone for the region.

The project pairs a 28.5MWp solar farm with a 5MW/10MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS). The BESS was supplied by Sungrow as covered by Energy-Storage.news’ sister site PV Tech in May 2021 when the project was announced.

The BESS portion of the project received financial support from the Energy Catalyst programme of Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. It will smooth out intermittency of the solar farm as well as provide frequency response services to the country’s electricity grid.

The solar’s effective power appears to be lower than its nameplate, with the press release stating the project will “provide 20MW of much needed power to Malawi’s grid”.

It is JCM Power’s second renewable energy project in Malawi. In October 2021, its 60MW Salima Solar project entered commercial operation.

Commenting on the Golomoti commissioning, CEO Christian Wray said: “In addition to developing and financing the project, JCM Power managed the execution of the works and, despite numerous challenges due to impacts from the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased with the speed of project execution, the positive economic benefits delivered to Malawi and all while keeping our employees and communities safe.”

Some 85% of the 550 jobs created through construction went to Malawians and the process preserved ancient baobab trees which were on the site.

JCM Power has corporate backing from various development banks and has completed renewable energy projects in Malawi, Pakistan, Nigeria and Tanzania. InfraCo Africa is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), an infrastructure project developer and investor specialised in sub-Saharan Africa and south and southeast Asia.

This article was amended to correct a mistake about the power output of the battery energy storage system.

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