Gambia seeks experts for 150 MW solar project


The Gambian government and the West African Power Pool (WAPP) have launched a process to find consultants for a 150-MW solar project with a 20-MWh energy storage option.

The joint faction is soliciting consultants to produce technical and financial feasibility studies for Gambia’s proposed first utility-scale solar park which is earmarked for a 225-hectare site close to a 225kV substation under-construction in the Greater Banjul area, west of the country.

The consultants work will help define the optimal strategy for the phasing of the construction of the solar power plant, a document shows.

The facility is expected to be built in two phases, with 80MW coming online in 2021 and the remainingf 70 MW in 2025.

The government will arrange a power purchase agreement for state utility the National Water & Electricity Company (NAWEC) and set up an auction system for independent power producers (IPPs) who will be given access to the plant’s grounds and infrastructure.

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In January 2019, nation-wide installed capacity sat around 139MW in The Gambia, according to the terms of reference for the proposed solar project published by WAPP. Only 42% of Gambians have access to electricity, according to US government statistics.

The country is aiming to scale its generation capacity up to 300MW by 2025. In 2018, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs purchased 75% of NAWEC’s debt in an effort to make the utility company appealling to foreign investment.

NAWEC’s clean energy programme, which has been backed by the European Investment Bank and the World Bank, wants to see all rural schools and health centres benefit from solar and battery technology.

The hope is that the proposed solar project’s will spur the development of private power production in the small west African state.

The solar photovoltaic project is part of a renewable energy programme launched with great fanfare by the government with the support of its partners, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The two donors released US$164 million in March 2019 to support the Gambian government with the implementation.