As a country currently reliant on imports for over 80% of its energy needs, Benin is keen for more home-grown generation capacity and increased security of supply. The utility-scale Atacora Solaire project will do just that, with the construction of a grid-connected solar PV power plant with a capacity of up to 25MW in a region with a less than 5% electrification rate.
Once built, it will provide around 260,000 people with access to a cleaner and more reliable energy supply. Another goal of the project is to facilitate the supply of power and purified water to a local hospital serving 30,000 residents. Around 100 temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase, and 20 permanent positions during the operational phase.
The project is being developed by British developer Greenheart Power Africa in collaboration with the Benin government’s renewable energy programme, and is set to become – with REPP support – one of the West African country’s first grid-connected renewable energy projects supported with a bankable power purchase agreement (PPA), government concession and grid connection agreements. Negotiations are also at an advanced stage with the Regional Liquidity Support Facility (RLSF), which is supported by KfW and the African Trade Insurance Agency. This could see the project benefit from a new payment security facility.
The development, which is also one of the first utility-scale renewable energy initiatives in Benin by an independent power producer (IPP), points to an improving institutional and legal framework for private sector renewable energy projects in Benin. Once built, the solar power plant will be a clear demonstration of the viability of utility-scale projects to both developers and finance providers in the region, and will provide a template of bankable documentation that opens the way for other similar projects to provide isolated communities with energy access.
It will also have the potential to strengthen political buy-in and support for renewable energy projects in Benin by demonstrating how projects of this type can contribute to the electrification and domestic power production objectives of the government of Benin.
With the help of REPP funding, the project has been developed to a level that has already attracted funding interest from European development finance institutions and private equity.
Contracted date: 29 December 2016
Lending type: Development capital
REPP funding: USD $270,000
REPP’s support has enabled us to complete critical aspects of the development phase and given us the confidence to initiate other work. We’re now looking forward to delivering the project which will help Benin grow and prosper while reducing carbon emissions.- Mike Eyre, President, Greenheart Power Africa Limited