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UK developer set to build Africa’s largest solar farm



Blue Energy, the renewable energy firm that installed panels for the successful Westmill Solar Co-operative, has announced plans to build Africa’s largest solar farm.

The 155 megawatt (MW) park is set to be located in Ghana and will reportedly cost some $400m (£248m). But upon completion in 2015, the country’s electricity capacity will have increased by 6% as a result and hundreds of locals will have found jobs in areas like construction and maintenance.

Work to install the 630,000 panels will begin next year, when the Nzema project will become the first large-scale development to make use of Ghana’s feed-in tariff scheme.

Some 100,000 homes are set to be powered by the farm, which will not only become Africa’s largest solar project once it is completed; but the fourth-largest in the world.

Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa”, said Chris Dean, chief executive of Blue Energy.

Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa.

We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.”

Blue Energy’s investment to tap into Ghana’s renewable energy resources will go some way to helping the country attract $1 billion of clean energy funding, that its energy ministry revealed in November it was looking for between now and 2020.

The African state was the first developing nation to engage with the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and has a target to produce 10% of its electricity from clean sources by 2020. It’s said that the Nzema project will account for a fifth of this target.

One of Blue Energy’s most recent ventures was to install 21,000 solar panels in South Oxfordshire as part of the Westmill Solar Co-operative. The 5MW project, which recently announced it has raised sufficient funds to purchase the park, is 31 times smaller than the one planned to be built in Ghana.

Further reading:

Ghana looks for $1bn renewable energy investment

‘UK’s largest solar farm’ gets planning approval

Responsible investors seeing ‘enormous potential’ of emerging markets

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy