Seychelles looks to clean energy

The first independent, utility-scale, floating solar power plant in Africa moves into the next phase of implementation

A short-list of eight bidders are in the running to design, construct and operate what is billed as Africa’s first, independent, utility-scale, floating solar photovoltaic power station. Located on Providence Lagoon at Mahé in Seychelles, the plant is scheduled to go into operation early next year.

The project was initiated late in 2018 by the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change in conjunction with the Seychelles Energy Commission, and has the backing of the United States-based Clinton Foundation and the African Legal Support Facility, an African Development Bank resource.

Among the companies short-listed as preferred bidders is Building Energy South Africa, part of an Italian-based conglomerate, which operates globally in the renewable energy industry, producing electricity from sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

Other entities short-listed include joint venture partners Generale du Solaire and Total Eren; Quadran Seychelles and Vetiver Tech; GreenYellow SAS and Voltas Ecobiotech; Solar Philippines and Corex Solar; as well as Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios SA; Masdar and Scatec Solar ASA.

According to a statement released by the Clinton Foundation, Trinity International and Multiconsult Norge have been appointed to act as transaction consultants and tender advisers.

The contenders have three months to produce full technical and financial proposals for the plant, with the winning bid to be announced in November. Construction is expected to start early in 2020. In terms of a contractual agreement, the electricity generated by the plant will be bought by the Seychelles Public Utilities Corporation at a fixed tariff for a 25-year period.

The statement quotes Fiona Wilson, senior regional manager for the Clinton Climate Initiative – an arm of the Clinton Foundation – as saying the project represents a ground-breaking step forward for island nations and other regions with limited land available for energy development.

“Floating solar photovoltaic energy holds immense potential for islands, and our partners in Seychelles are demonstrating true leadership in addressing the global climate and energy crisis,” she maintains.

Echoing her sentiments, Tony Imaduwa, CEO of the Seychelles Energy Commission, says the project represents a landmark for Seychelles. “It will not only inject green energy into the grid, but will also exemplify the country’s commitment and will in transforming its energy sector to a low-carbon base.’

Recently, the Government of Seychelles hosted a site visit for the pre-qualified bidders to brief them on the tender process and build area, as well as to view the lagoon and related sites in person, network with local contractors and pose questions to the project team.

“When constructed and operational, the plant will be the first utility-scale, private-sector funded floating solar plant in Africa, and Seychelles’ first independent power producer, drawing international expertise and capital to both transfer knowledge to the local energy sector and accelerate Seychelles’ transition to renewable energy.

“The plant will also be the first utility-scale floating solar project in a marine environment worldwide, paving the way for further marine projects, a crucial opportunity for island nations and other land-scarce energy systems,” the Clinton Foundation statement concludes.

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