Work has begun to develop a 7.5MW solar field in Burundi by frontier renewable energy developer Gigawatt Global, a Dutch company with American investors and a founding partner of the US Power Africa initiative.
“It takes a global village to bring utility-scale green energy to where it is needed most in Africa,” says Yosef Abramowitz, CEO of Gigawatt Global, and named by CNN as one of the world’s six leading ‘Green Pioneers’.
“Following the lack-luster United Nations climate conference, we are demonstrating to the world that it is possible to create and scale a business model to achieve, especially in frontier markets, many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
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The project will fill the power needs of more than 87,000 people and businesses, will provide 300 temporary jobs during construction, and will support up to 50 permanent jobs during the 25-year operational phase.
Gigawatt Global and its partners selected Voltalia, the French engineering, procurement and construction company, to build the solar field, which is located on the soft rolling hills on the outskirts of Mubuga village on 11.5 hectares of privately-owned land.
The field will use 25,140 Suntech panels and 56 Kaco string inverters and is expected to be interconnected well before the United Nations COP 26, which will be hosted by the UK.
US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)—previously the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)—is supporting the project with political risk insurance and senior debt. The project is also supported by EEP, Get.Invest, and by the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) to cover relevant studies.
“Bringing clean energy to one of the world’s least developed countries fulfills Gigawatt Global’s mission to be a premier impact platform of choice for renewables in Africa,” says Michael Fichtenberg, MD of Gigawatt Global Burundi SA and the VP of finance and business development for Gigawatt Global Cooperatief. “We accomplished this pioneering project together with supporters from across the entire development spectrum, including innovative financial products being deployed for the first time with this project. We believe this demonstrates how solar power can be implemented in other developing markets, while decreasing dependency on costly and polluting diesel generators.”
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