Uganda is now home to one of East Africa's largest solar power plant with the launch of its $19 million facility in Soroti District in the northeastern part of the country.
Made up of 32,680 photovoltaic panels, the new 10 megawatt facility is the country’s first grid-connected solar plant.
The plant, sitting on a 33-acre land, is located 293 kilometres east of the capital Kampala and is expected to power at least 40,000 homes.
The shift to clean, renewable energy has been gaining traction over the years as demand for electricity rises.
People living in far-flung areas have been the main focus to adopt solar power, though considered an expensive option, more out of necessity than affordability, because of absence of a national grid. The initial setup cost of solar power is seen as an impediment.
For Uganda, the Soroti plant will see the country diversify its energy mix that has largely been dependent on hydroelectricity. Over 80 per cent of Uganda’s electricity is from hydropower, leaving the country prone to blackouts whenever water levels drop.
Financed by Germany, European Union, Norway and UK under the global energy transfer feed in tariff (GET FiT) – a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects – the $19 million plant is managed by German development bank KfW and Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).
According to ERA’s spokesman Julius Wandera, power from the plant will cost $0.11 per unit of electricity consumed.