Malawi to receive first commercial-scale solar+storage plant

Golomoti Solar plant Malawi
Artist impression of Golomoti Solar plant, credit: InfraCoAfrica

InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), and its project partner, JCM Power, have committed to financing the construction of the 20MW Golomoti Solar project with a 5MW/10MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) in Malawi.

Golomoti Solar will be the first commercial-scale solar photovoltaic plant in Malawi to include a BESS. Along with its sister project, Salima Solar, Golomoti is among the first commercial-scale solar photovoltaic plants in the country.

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Addressing the ceremony, Minister for Energy Hon. Newton David Kambala said: “I have the singular honour to officially launch the construction of the 20MW solar plant with storage, here at Golomoti in Dedza District.”

He continued: “This groundbreaking ceremony is historic in the electricity sector because it is the first solar plant with storage by a private Independent Power Producer. I must commend JCM management for the effort put into their two projects in Salima and Dedza. All these efforts are being made amidst the challenging environment of COVID-19ࢀ¦ I can only say congratulations on this occasionࢀ¦ I am more than optimistic that you will deliver just as you have done on the Salima project.”

Image: InfraCoAfrica

InfraCo Africa’s CEO, Gilles Vaes, said: “As part of our commitment to Malawi’s renewable energy sector, we are pleased to be working with our partners at JCM to deliver a further 20MWAC of clean power to the grid.

“This key milestone has been made possible by the strong support the project has received from the Government of Malawi, regulators and the state utility, ESCOM. By generating additional power and pioneering energy storage, Golomoti Solar will ensure that homes and businesses in Malawi will have access to more reliable electricity to drive economic growth.”

Located in Dedza, approximately 100km south-east of Lilongwe, the Golomoti Solar plant will facilitate the delivery of clean power to Malawi’s national grid.

With support from Business Energy and Industrial Strategies International Climate Finance through Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst and RINA, the project will incorporate a state-of-the-art 5MW/10MWh lithium-ion BESS. This will enable the plant to provide reliable power and improve network stability, reducing reliance on hydro and diesel generation, whilst ensuring that grid stability is maintained. It is anticipated that performance data from the BESS will inform similar systems elsewhere in the region.

JCM Power’s Co-Founder and Head of Africa, Justin Woodward, said: “With the addition of batteries, the project will provide the foundation for Malawi to continue to be a regional leader in the renewable energy industry.”

Golomoti Solar has benefited from knowledge-sharing with its sister project, Salima Solar, with both projects key to transforming regulatory frameworks around Malawi’s renewable energy sector. Salima Solar is expected to begin delivering power to Malawi’s national grid in early 2021, with Golomoti becoming operational in the latter half of 2021.

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