03 March 2014, Kampala — While the country eagerly awaits an additional 600MW from the Karuma Hydropower Dam project, there is need for alternative sources of electricity so as to ensure security of supply.
In the interim, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has developed a framework that will allow for the addition of 50MW of solar energy onto the national grid. The process to get contractors to develop, finance and operate an interconnected solar photovoltaic power plant under the Uganda GETFiT solar facility has started.
The regulator recently held a consultative workshop for bidders at the Kampala Metropole Hotel where the investors were briefed on the specifications and requirements.
Patrick Mwesige, the Director Financial and Administration Services at ERA told the East African Business Week that the ultimate aim is to get 50MW of solar energy onto the national grid in the next three years.
“We are working on several large hydro projects but those will take a longer time to final get onto the national grid. This first 20MW that we are calling for Expression of Interest is a pilot of sorts and once it succeeds then we shall call for bids for the remaining 30MW.”
He also added that by the end of March 2014, investors should have submitted their Expression of Interest and bidding should start before August 2014.
“Licenses will be issued by September and the project shouldn’t take more than a year. So we expect the solar to be added onto the national grid by September 2015. In this, time is of the essence and because this investment could cost a company between 10 – 15m Euros.
“One of the requirements is that a company must have had a turnover of 20m Euros in the last three years. This is really to sort the grain from the chaff. We have learnt lessons from South Africa and Ghana that we believe will help us implement this project,” Mwesige explained.
Solar will be pivotal in extending power to areas that are far away from the national grid thus helping with the rural electrification.
“This marks an important step in the electricity subsector. Hitherto, we have not had any solar PV interconnected onto the grid. So this will help us mitigate the effects of power shortage,” he observed
– East African Business Week