- The demand for reliable clean power is exponentially increasing, creating huge potential and opportunity.
- The proliferation of green bonds is improving the capital stack for utility-scale and ideally will continue to increase in availability.
- Large format modules allow for further economies of scale and efficiency in design, driving BOS cost down.
How has the year 2022 been so far at Renewvia? What have been some key developments?
2022 has been the most dynamic since the company’s inception. Renewvia financed, designed and built the largest private mini-grid, including distribution, in East Africa in Q2 serving over 15,000 residents in a refugee settlement in Northern Kenya. Renewvia is operating the facility and is already planning an expansion to ultimately serve the entire community of over 40,000 people. Separately, Renewvia’s platform continues to expand in order to best operate the over 20 community mini-grids developed over the last five years in Kenya and Nigeria.
What is your outlook on East Africa’s large-scale utility solar segment in the next 5 years?
Challenging and expansive. Land control will always pose significant risks and complexities for utility-scale in East Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but energy transition and reduced cost of solar are driving utility-scale solar aggressively in the region. The demand for reliable clean power is exponentially increasing, creating huge potential and opportunity.
What is your view on getting finance for a large-scale utility solar project in East Africa? How green financing could boost East Africa’s IPP market?
Investment grade credit and foreign exchange risk continue to require participation from entities providing guarantees in various forms, which increases the cost of the transaction/development. Upward pressure on PPA prices in concert with lower than an acceptable risk-adjusted yield must be navigated with each utility-scale opportunity. Obviously, there are proven scenarios that can achieve this, but fewer moving parts are always more attractive. The proliferation of green bonds is improving the capital stack for utility-scale and ideally will continue to increase in availability.
How the recent BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) with Large format solar modules could change the utility-scale solar landscape in East Africa?
The cost of BESS is and has moved in the “right” direction for the last several years. As the utility-scale market continues to improve in the region, storage will be more applicable for those utilities requiring demand response to improve resiliency to subscribers and stabilization of the grid. Large format modules allow for further economies of scale and efficiency in design, driving BOS cost down.
What would be your choice between bifacial large format high power P-type and N-type solar modules for East Africa’s large-scale utility solar plant and why?
N Type Panels are preferred due to efficiency and propensity to provide a higher yield. Developers focused on performance and lifespan rely on N-type panels’ cost benefit.