Quantel commences construction of a MK60 billion ‘Solar Farm’

QUANTEL Renewable Energy Limited and its partners has commenced the construction of a 50 Mega Watt solar farm at Ulalo Village at Bwengu in Mzimba District, three years after signing a Power Purchasing Agreement with Escom and MERA.
“The trust given to us, as demonstrated by the power purchasing Agreement (PPA) signed between us and the single buyer Power Market Limited (PML) is not and will at no point in time be taken for granted,” the Company’s CEO Patridge Shycal said during the ground breaking ceremony held at Mtendere Primary School on Monday.

Ribbon cutting at Bwengu Solar Farm
Nestled on 105 hectares of leased land, the solar farm is part of the government’s blue print to diversify its energy sources and also to reach a peak of 1000 Mega Watts power generation by 2028.
The Bwengu Project is estimated to cost $65m once completed and will have the capacity to generate 50 MW of photovoltaic energy, which may go up to 65 Mwp per year, translating into the significant supply of clean and sustainable energy to homes and commercial businesses in Malawi.
QUANTEL Renewable Energy Ltd has partnered with two companies in this project namely Vidullanka Plc from Sri Lanka and Frontier Energy from Denmark.
The trio’s desire to invest in Malawi was driven by the increased demand for energy in Malawi, propelled by rapid population growth and industrialisation among others.
“Pre-construction works at the site are expected to be completed within 9-12 months all things being equal, however, the consortium appealed to the government to expediate outstanding permits and agreements which are hampering the project,” Shycal said.
Ministry of Energy Director Joseph Kalowekamo hailed the solar farm project saying power is a critical input into any economic activity.
“Energy is a major determinant of the quality of life. Inadequate power affects the economy and peoples’ lives,” Kalowekamo said.
He also said Malawi needs to move at a faster pace to diversify it power generation from hydro which currently stands at 98 per cent.
“We need back up power from other sources since hydro is constantly impacted by climate change. We hope we are not here just to lay a foundation stone. This project must come to fruition within the stipulated time frame,” Kalowekamo said.
PML Chief Executive Officer, Rosemary Mkandawire urged local firms to venture into the power sector and not leave it to foreign owned firms.
Malawi has signed over 80 Power Purchasing Agreements with private firms since it opened up the energy sector in 2018. But out of these only three are operational.
“The Bwengu Solar Farm is allowing Malawi to diversify its energy generation. Most people have no access to electricity because of inadequate generation. Increasing generation is a huge task but not an insurmountable one,” Mkandawire said.
She noted that the recent prolonged blackouts caused by floods in the Shire river has demonstrated the disadvantage of solely rely on hydroelectricity.
Senior Chief Mtwalo urged the people to desist from vandalism and theft of equipment once the project is operational.
“Theft and vandalism derails development,” he said.

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