Swedfund finances floating solar plants study in Uganda

UGANDASweden is providing a grant to conduct analytical studies for the development of floating solar power in Uganda.

These plants will be built in the reservoirs of several dams and the project is already subject to a call for tenders.

This comes after the Governments of Uganda and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding around several initiatives meant to support the Ugandan energy sector.

The Swedish support could turn Uganda into a pioneer in the use of floating solar PV panels in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Now that the grant has been secured, a consultant will be hired to embark on the analysis and the study should take around 21 months, starting in January and it will focus on pioneering the floating solar development for either of the reservoirs at the hydropower plants at Nalubaale and Kiira, or Bujagali, Ismba or Karuma.

At the moment almost 80% of Uganda’s installed electricity capacity is generated by large and small hydropower plants, which have become very prone to climate change. Their other energy sources are co-generation, thermal, and solar PV.

The East African country has an installed capacity of 1,291 MW, of which 1,006 MW (80%) is generated by hydroelectric plants. Floating solar power plants could support the dams during periods of high sunlight to allow the power plant to operate at full capacity after sunset.

This solution will optimize the operation of hydroelectric dams that are subject to drought, which reduces river flows and affects reservoirs. Floating solar power plants also reduce evaporation in dam reservoirs.

To improve the energy mix dilemma, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL) with support from Swedfund, plans to explore venturing into other alternative renewable energy starting with conducting analytical studies for floating solar technology.

According to the Swedish investor, installing solar panels near hydroelectric plants should add additional power to the grid while leveraging existing transmission infrastructure.

The larger power plants will be installed without requiring the displacement of populations.

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