The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) approved at the end of 2014 a USD 777,000 preparation grant for JCM Greenquest Solar Corporation to support the development of a 72 MW Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power plant as the first renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Cameroon. The SEFA grant will finance environmental and social impact assessments and the cost related to the technical, legal and financial advisory services.
Despite Cameroon’s abundant resource potential and availability of conventional (oil and gas) and renewable (hydro and solar) resources, Cameroon’s energy access rate is very low for the continent, standing at only 18% in 2013. The country’s installed capacity of 1,400 MW is largely based on hydropower (60%), which fluctuates greatly during the drought season forcing Cameroon to rely on expensive emergency thermal units. While there are plans for some large hydropower development, the implementation of solar PV will deliver power on much shorter timelines than hydro (lead time of less than two years versus four to six years for hydro) and provide a long-term predictable source of electricity over the next 25 years. The JCM project will additionally help diversify the energy mix in the country using a renewable source, drive savings in fuel imports by reducing the need for emergency thermal units which are currently operating at maximum capacity, while at the same time lowering Cameroon’s overall carbon energy footprint.
The Government has created a long-term Energy Sector Development Plan (PDSE 2030), calling for a 75% electrification rate by 2030 and established an order for the implementation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), thus provide a strong signal for private participation in renewable energy projects in Cameroon. The project additionally supports the Cameroon’s Growth and Employment Strategy (2010-2020) with the goal to reduce the cost of electricity production and diversify Cameroon’s sources of electricity generation.
According to Alex Rugamba, Director of the African Development Bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, “this support will be critical in delivering Cameroon’s first renewable energy IPP and its success will have significant demonstration effects in the country’s power sector and the continent at large.”
“We welcome the support of the AfDB as we work with the Government of Cameroon to help them achieve their energy policy goals. As the first renewable energy IPP in the country, we believe this project will jump start the development of renewables in Cameroon and attract significant investment to the clean energy sector,” said Michael Strait, Managing Director, Development Group, JCM Capital.
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