Ethiopia signs deal with UAE's Masdar for 500 MW solar plant

Ethiopia signs deal with UAE’s Masdar for 500 MW solar plant

ADDIS ABABA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates renewable energy company Masdar and Ethiopia have signed an agreement for the joint development of a solar project with a capacity of 500 megawatts, Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

The move could potentially allow Ethiopia to significantly expand its energy capacity and also diversify its energy mix, a key part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s industrialisation drive.

At present, Ethiopia has total installed power generating capacity of about 4,898 MW, with 91% of it coming from hydroelectric power, based on data from state-run Ethiopian Electric Power.

“Pleased to see the signing of a Joint development agreement (JDA) between the Government of Ethiopia and Masdar to develop two solar photovoltaic plants,” Abiy said in a tweet, adding the two plants would have a combined generation capacity of 500 megawatts.

Abiy did not give details on where the plants would be located, or their cost.

Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokesperson and Mamo Mihretu, chief executive officer of state-run Ethiopia Investment Holdings, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for more information.

Masdar did not immediately respond to a Reuters message seeking comment.

Ethiopia is eager to expand its energy capacity and last year began generating power from its giant Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a multi-billion-dollar hydropower plant on the River Nile that neighbours Sudan and Egypt have opposed.

When it reaches full capacity, the dam will have a generating capacity of more than 6,000 MW.

In his tweet, Abiy said the global net zero emission targets were an opportunity for Ethiopia “to harness our renewable resources and ensure access to abundant, clean and affordable energy.”

Masdar has been pushing into renewable energy in Africa and elsewhere. This week the company also signed an agreement with Zambia’s state-owned power utility Zesco to develop solar projects worth $2 billion.