Malawi’s first utility-scale PV plant, the Kanzimbe solar power station also known as Salima solar power plant is now connected to the national grid. The 60MW project is located in the Salima district of Malawi spreading over an area of 170 hectares and capable of producing 154 GWh of electricity per year.
The solar photovoltaic power plant is the result of a public-private partnership (PPP) project originally developed by JCM Power Corporation, Matswani Capital, and InfraCo Africa, a part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). The Dutch development bank, FMO, subsequently invested in the construction. JCM Matswani Solar Corp Ltd, the Malawi Special Purpose Vehicle is 75% owner of the project whereas Infraco Africa Ltd owns the remaining 25%.
The companies will operate and maintain the plant under the terms of a 20-year PPA signed with the national utility of Malawi, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Limited (ESCOM). The plant is guaranteed by the Africa Trade Insurance Agency, a financial institution established by seven Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries with the World Bank’s technical and financial support in providing insurance against political and commercial risks.
The President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera had presided over the inauguration ceremony of the solar project. He mentioned the contribution of the power plant to the country’s agenda in minimizing its carbon emissions whilst promoting economic growth with access to reliable energy.
The solar power plant demonstrates Malawi as an attractive destination for private sector investment in the energy sector and provides a unique opportunity for the country to leapfrog over-investment in expensive and outdated fossil fuels.
Justin Woodward, the Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer of JCM Power acknowledged the support from the Malawi Government, ESCOM, and Power Market Ltd for the Salima power plant.
InfraCo Africa and JCM Power are already working together to build Malawi’s second utility-scale solar plant at Golomoti in Dedza district with 20MW. This project will pioneer the use of a battery energy storage system, enabling a further increase in the reliability of renewable energy.
Together the Salima and Golomoti solar power plants will increase Malawi’s total installed power generation capacity by over 80MW by early 2022 and utilize Malawi’s solar potential.