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Financial Close Reached for Tunisia’s Largest Solar Plant

Financial close has been reached on the planned 100-megawatt, $86Million, solar PV plant in Tunisia’s Kairouan governorate.

It is Tunisia’s first privately-financed solar project.

It will also the biggest; with around 20% of Tunisia’s renewable energy capacity.

The facility is being developed by AMEA Power, a renewable energy independent producer which is a subsidiary of the regional holding group AlNowais Investment Company, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The partners signed project launch papers on Tuesday 26 September, at the government headquarters in Al Qasba, Tunis. This initiative stands as one of Tunisia’s most impactful infrastructure projects in over a decade.

The financing close is the culmination of a four-year process. Tunisia awarded the Kairouan PV plant to a consortium that includes AMEA Power and Chinese energy solutions provider TBEA Xinjiang New Energy Company earlier in 2019. AMEA Power was then awarded a concession and power purchase agreement in March 2022, and construction on the plant was set to begin at the end of 2022.

The solar plant will benefit from up to $26Million in debt financing from the African Development Bank, including $13Million sourced from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa SEFA, a multi-donor fund that provides finance to unlock private sector investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. “The financing scheme is designed to ensure the holistic development, financing, operation, and maintenance of the plant, located roughly 150 km south of Tunis, in El Metbassta”, AfDB says in a statement.

AMEA Power expects to break ground on the project between December 2023 and January 2024, with plans to fully kick off operation on the solar farm by the summer of 2025.

The project, which will have a 120 MW peak production capacity and be built under a build, own, operate model. The project is expected to generate some 222 GWh of clean energy annually, powering some 43,000 households in the country, and offsetting an estimated 100,000 tons of CO2 annually once fully operational, the statement notes.

Through March 2022, Tunisia had about 472MW of installed renewable energy capacity, of which 244 MW was wind power, 166 MW solar power, and 62 MW of hydroelectric power, representing a combined 8% of national energy production capacity, according to International Trade Administration of the United States’ Department of Commerce.

Tunisia has set a national strategy to develop solar plants with a combined capacity of 500 MW across the country, with a target to have clean energy sources comprise 35% of its electricity mix by 2030, and its unconditional emissions reduction target to slash 27% — 35Million tons of carbon dioxide —- by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, and ultimately become carbon-neutral by 2050.

Tunisia plans to construct a 200 MW plant in Tataouine, a 100 MW plant in Gafsa, and two 50 MW plants in Tozeur and Sidi Bouzid.

Sasol: Pilot Successful, Green Hydrogen Production Starts Early 2024

Sasol, the South African synfuels giant, expects to commence consistent production of green hydrogen in early 2024, once the 69 Megawatt Msenge Emoyeni Wind Farm, in the Eastern Cape, begins supply of renewable energy to Sasol’s Sasolburg site via a wheeling arrangement.

The company says it has proven the concept, when it produced its first green hydrogen, under a pilot phase, using a 3MW solar photovoltaic facility in its factory in Sasolburg, in the country’s Free State province,  in June 2023.

It had used the pilot project to repurpose an operational electrolyser to use renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The green hydrogen produced in Sasolburg will be used in mobility applications.

“There is a demand for green hydrogen to decarbonise the mining industry, and in other mobility applications,” declares Sasol CEO Fleetwood Grobler.

“Once operational, the (69MW) Msenge wind farm together with the Sasolburg solar farm will provide sufficient renewable power to commercialise green hydrogen in South Africa”,  Grobler assures.

“This is a huge step forward in the energy transition, not just for Sasol but also for South Africa,” Grobler explains.




Africa’s Promise of Energy Renewal:  When You Build It, They Will Come

By Toyin Akinosho

Algeria needs to build a large renewable energy market to save itself from a good problem.

The country produces enough electricity to supply the 44Million people who inhabit its 2.382Million km² of space. But Algeria’s high production of power from natural gas means it has to burn significant volume of methane in its gasfired thermal plants that it would rather export. To earn foreign exchange, Algeria desperately wants to export more hydrocarbon than it currently does.

Algeria’s renewable energy supply is small. In 2022, it generated 448 MW of solar power; 228 MW of hydroelectricity, and 10 MW of wind power. The country is starved of water resources, so its hydro power growth is stunted.

Despite that it is starting from a low base, an analyst’s report suggests that western companies considering relocating their manufacturing capabilities away from Asia should see Algeria a viable alternative, “given its well-developed ecosystem, dynamic, qualified, cost-effective labour, low-cost energy, and Free Trade Agreements with Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Africa”.

SOUTH AFRICA IS A MORE ADVANCED, INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY than anywhere else on the continent. It plays actively in the…

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TOYOTA to Build a 25MW Solar Plant in Benin Republic

Toyota Tsusho Corporation has signed a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with the new Société béninoise de production d’électricité (SBPE) to develop a 25MW solar power plant  in Pobe Municipal Council in the south-eastern flank of the republic of Benin.

The facility is the second phase of the Illoulofin photovoltaic solar power plant.

The first phase of the project, which cost 60.5Million euros, was financed by the State of Benin with the support of the European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD). Like the planned second phase, it is also 25MW at peak and was completed in July 2022, equipped with 47,212 solar modules, 113 inverters, six 3,515 kVA transformer substations, computer-assisted automatic control of the power plant and anti-intrusion surveillance and security systems.

Going the route of a public-private partnership (PPP) for the second phase clearly eases the burden for SBPE. Toyota Tsusho, a subsidiary of the Toyota Group, will be working with RMT, a German EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) company, a subsidiary of the French group Eiffage, which built the first phase of the Illoulofin solar power plant. The second phase is due to come on stream in 2024.

Toyota Tsusho is growing its portfolio of renewable energy projects in Africa. In Kenya, it is  on course of constructing the Menengai geothermal power station (35 MW) in the Rift Valley, on behalf of Globeleq, the British independent power producer (IPP). The company is also investing in seawater desalination, with a contract won in Senegal to build the Mamelles plant, as part of a consortium with India’s VA Tech Wabag and France’s Eiffage Génie Civil.

In Egypt, Toyota Tsusho is in concert with Engie and Egyptian flagship Orascom Construction to install a 500 MW wind farm in Ras Ghareb, on the Gulf of Suez.

Morocco Calls for Bids For 400MW Solar Plant and Storage

The Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) has called for tenders for the third phase of its Noor Midelt programme (Noor Midelt III), which involves the construction of a 400 MW photovoltaic solar power plant equipped with an electricity storage system.

The tender for Noor Midelt III solar power plant comes one month after the agency published the result of prequalification for Noor Midelt II, the second phase of the three-phase solar power plant with capacity of also 400MW..

The three phases of Noor Midelt will deliver 1,200MW.

Interested independent power producers (IPPs) have until October 20, 2023, to take part in this pre-qualification process.

Noor Midelt III is focused on having the private sector and international commercial banks play more influential role in Morocco’s deployment of renewable energies. The facility is designed to be equipped with a battery storage system capable of storing around 400 MWh 12 companies, most of them in consortia, were shortlisted for the Noor Midelt II plant. ENEL Green Power from Italy, EDF Renouvelables from France, Iberdrola Renovables International from Spain, Dongfang Electric International Corporation from China and ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia’ were included.

Morocco says it looks forward to having a mix of 52:48 (Renewable Energy: Non-Renewable Energy) in its electricity output by 2030.


IFC Funds South African Bank to Finance Green Buildings

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is lending $236Million to Absa, a Johannesburg-based banking group, “to expand its residential and commercial lending programme and mortgage financing for environmentally friendly buildings”.

The funding is expected to promote the IFC’s Design Excellence for Greater Efficiency (DEGE) programme to property developers. This certification encourages the design of buildings that save resources, particularly water and electricity.

It should enable Absa to strengthen its climate finance commitments to its large customer base spread across the African continent (Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, etc.).

Adamou Labara, the IFC’s Country Manager in South Africa, says “the incentives are funded by the IFC-UK Market Accelerator for Green Construction (MAGC) programme, which is sponsored by the UK, to develop green construction in emerging markets by encouraging financial intermediaries to develop and introduce new green construction finance products.”

These investments will contribute directly to South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets under the Paris Agreement.

Absa  had earlier received $150Million from IFC in 2021, a facility which was South Africa’s first certified green loan. The lender is a major financial partners of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP).

Why Big Oil Will Never Understand the DNA of New Energy

By Gerard Kreeft

The Clash of Two World Views

Will the oil and gas world ever fully understand the DNA of New Energy?

RRR (Reserve Replacement Ratio) vs GWs(Gigawatts), seismic vs electrolysis, drilling and completions vs wind parks and solar installations.

Two parallel worlds, for at least now, seeming to co-exist. Oil and gas have seen its apex but is still a force to be reckoned with; New Energy is just now starting to expand its footprint but there are already signs of what to expect.

Below a summary of what New Energy will bring and at the same time a summary of big oil’s thinking.  To understand the two worlds better also gives you an appreciation of the enormous complexity of what the energy transition really entails.

The Case of New Energy

With the hydrogen network in the Netherlands, Gasunie (The National Gas Company), is building a national network that will link up the carbon-free hydrogen supply and demand. Five industrial clusters will be linked to each other, to international countries and to hydrogen storage facilities. This will be done mainly with existing infrastructure and partly with new infrastructure that has yet to be built. This national network will be ready by 2025.

A key element is the building of a hydrogen supply chain. Industry in the Netherlands is responsible for about 25% of national carbon emissions, and electrification makes sustainability possible only to a limited extent. Carbon-free gases are a must when it comes to making industry more sustainable. Using carbon-free hydrogen as a feedstock and as a fuel makes it possible to reduce emissions from industry, and to make a major contribution to the energy transition.
A key innovative cornerstone of this hydrogen supply chain innovation is Battolyser Systems, which  has developed and manufactures the world’s first integrated battery/electrolyser system. A Battolyser can produce hydrogen from solar and wind when power prices are low and provide electricity to the grid when prices are high. The system is extremely flexible, efficient and robust. It can alleviate grid congestion, enable the build-out of more solar and wind energy developments, and offer the lowest cost green hydrogen. The Battolyser technology is deployable at scale using abundant and conflict free active materials: nickel and iron.

The world’s first large scale Battolyser factory will be constructed in the port of Rotterdam to meet soaring demand for green hydrogen and electricity storage.

“This partnership will develop the first industrial green hydrogen equipment manufacturing facility in The Netherlands,” said Mattijs Slee, CEO, Battolyser Systems. “With our offshore wind potential, strong infrastructure and world class heavy industry, The Netherlands can now develop a sustainable and resilient energy system.”

The 1 GW per annum Battolyser factory will be located in an industrial site in the heart of Rotterdam. The cost of developing the 14,000 m2 production site, complete with new office and laboratory facilities, is estimated to be about €100Million. Once fully operational it will require some 700 directly employed staff plus create up to four times as many indirect jobs with supply chain partners.

“This partnership with port of Rotterdam to develop our first large scale manufacturing facility together is a big step forward in our commercialization. The factory allows us to deliver Battolysers at industrial scale and affordable prices. We are in constructive conversation with the Dutch government and EU institutions, and we are confident that together we can secure the required funding,” said Slee.

“A net zero world will require between 5,000 and 10,000 GW of installed electrolyser capacity. The electrolyser supply chain is a huge opportunity for The Netherlands to develop new sustainable industries that can support our energy transition needs and offer export products to world.”

Creating a new industry

Battolyser is creating a new industry which will include functions such as data scientists, electrochemical engineers, finite element modelling engineers, design engineers, and research scientists.

What has set a company as Battolyser apart is creating a huge competitive advantage which will be hard to challenge for newcomers. Battolyser has moved well beyond simply dabbling in green energy; it’s a specialist entity which is now moving on to the next level: creating a new industry sector which is still in its infancy and will grow very quickly in the coming years.

Battolyser is a company that will be closely aligned with the green energy companies– Enel, Engie, Iberdrola, and Ørsted. To summarize:

Enel: committed to achieving CO2 neutrality by 2040 instead of 2050, achieving 75% of electricity from renewables and 80% digitalization of its customers on the grid by 2025. and having an installed generating capacity of 75GW by 2050.

Engie: pledged to reduce to CO2 neutrality by 2045, 45% of investments is focused on renewables and by 2030 will have 80GW of installed generating capacity.

Iberdrola: in the period 2023-2025 the company will invest $50Billion and achieve net zero for Scope 1, 2 and 3 before 2040. By 2030 the company will have installed capacity of 100GW, valued at $70 billion.

Note: Essentially, scope 1 and 2 are those emissions that are owned or controlled by a company, whereas scope 3 emissions are a consequence of the activities of the company but occur from sources not owned or controlled by it.

Ørsted: the Danish wind energy pioneer, continues to set new records. Ørsted share price in May 2023 was $90; five years earlier in 10 June 2016 it was $37. By 2030 the company’s goal is to have an installed capacity of 50GW. Ørsted is also involved with the building of two energy islands– Bornholm and North Sea– which will deliver 10GW of power.

How will shareholders react to these companies in 2023?  To date there is good news and bad news for green energy companies.

Table 2: Stock market prices of new energy companies Jan 2018- May 2023

Year Enel Engie Iberdrola Ørsted
2018 $5 $16 $7 $49
2023 $7 $15 $12 $90

Enel, the Italian power company has seen its share price increase by 40%. Engie, the large French energy giant has seen its share price remain flat. Iberdrola, the Spanish power company has had an increase of 71% and Ørsted, the Danish power company, has seen its stock soar by 84%.

The DNA of Big Oil

One of the most basic fallacies of Big Oil is the belief that their upstream assets will provide them the necessary cash-flow to invest in low carbon solutions. In their narrative upstream provides excellent cash returns, new energy not. The evidence is otherwise.

Table 1: Stock market prices of  majors Jan 2018- May 2023(NYSE – New York Stock Exchange)

Year Repsol BP Shell Eni TOTAL


Chevron ExxonMobil Equinor
2018 $17 $43 $69 $35 $58 $128 $87 $23
2023 $14 $36 $58 $28 $60 $154 $106 $2

In the January 2018-May 2023 period the Dow Jones Industrial Index rose 31%: increasing from 25,295 to 33,093. Yet the European oil majors(with the exception of Equinor), have seen their share prices underperforming badly: Repsol down 18%, BP down 16%, Shell down 16%, ENI down 20%, TotalEnergies was up 3%.

The European majors have a sticky problem: wanting to portray themselves as both energy and oil companies. For example:

Equinor in the period 2018- May 2023 was up 17%. Why? Because the company is pledged to spend more than half of its capital budget on new energy by 2023. Its capital budget is currently $17 billion. Yet it has had to delay its Bay du Nord Project, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada because the project has a price tag of $12 billion. Given Equinor’s intensions to have more than 50% of its capital budget dedicated to new energy by 2030, the company has some hard choices to make. Then there is the matter of its offshore wind portfolio which remains operating at a loss and lacks economies of scale. Will this be hived off to one of the new energy players or consolidate its offshore wind portfolio with BP?

TOTALEnergies is anxious to protect its green image. The company has recently stated that it has already committed 50% of its exploration budget for 2023 to its Namibian assets. Given that it has outlined its strategy to be CO2 compliant by 2050 and the company’s desire to develop its prize assets in Southern Africa, analysts will be closely following what will happen. One option is closer co-operation with Shell to ensure duplicity of services such as rig-sharing or a more comprehensive co-operation. Or will the squeeze on TOTALEnergies exploration budget be adjusted internally?

Shell meanwhile, under the leadership of CEO Wael Sewan,  is anxious to portray itself as a hydrocarbon company, much in the tradition of ExxonMobil and Chevron. With the firm intension to see a sharp rise in its stock price which in the period January 2018-May 2023 was down 16%.

In its latest forecast Shell is predicting that 80% of its capital budget will be devoted to hydrocarbons and 20% to new energy. This is exactly the same range that Chevron and ExxonMobil maintain. New energy policies including CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) and other new energy initiatives make up only  between 15-20% of their capital budgets. In the case of Chevron some $3Billion per year based on a capital budget of $15-$17Billion; ExxonMobil’s new energy comes in at $3 billion per year based on a capex of $23- $25Billion.

Yet Chevron and ExxonMobil should not gloat. Chevron’s Tengiz Project in Kazakhstan represents one-third of the company’s reserves. If the war in Ukraine continues Putin could well leverage or block oil transportation that must go through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium which transports Caspian oil from Tengiz field to Novorossiysk-2 Marine Terminal, an export terminal at the Russian Black Sea port. The CPC pipeline handles almost all of Kazakhstan’s 1.3Million barrels per day (BPD).

Already on July 6, 2022, a Russian court ordered a 30-day suspension of the pipeline because of an oil spill. The CPC appealed the ruling and the suspension was lifted after a week. Instead, the company was fined 200,000 rubles ($300). Was this a precedent of things to come?

A final sour note for Chevron’s could be its Permian Basin assets, which represents one-third of its reserves. What assurances do we have that Chevron’s Permian Basin adventure will fare better than that of past shale operators?

In a 2021 March report IEEFA (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) found the 30 producers generated $1.8Billion in free cash flows in 2020 after slashing capital spending by $20Billion from the previous year.

“Last year’s positive free cash flows were only possible because shale companies cut their capital spending to the lowest level in more than a decade,” said Clark Williams-Derry, IEEFA energy finance analyst and co-author of the report. “Restraining capital spending could help the fracking sector generate cash, but low levels of investment also undermine the industry’s prospects for growth.”

Since 2010, the 30 companies examined by IEEFA had reported negative free cash flows totaling $158Billion.

“The positive free cash flows pale in comparison to the industry’s accumulated debt loads.”

The 30 shale producers owe almost $90Billion in long-term debt, and the reductions in capital expenditures are unlikely to ensure that the industry grows.

Tengiz and the Permian Basin represents approximately two-thirds of the company’s reserves. High risks and high rewards: Chevron’s share price up 20% between January 2018-May 2023 as long as it lasts!

ExxonMobils share price is also up 22% in this same period. Yet the company’s asset base is vulnerable and is more pre-occupied with court cases than the search for oil and gas. True its Guyana project continues to set new production records but court cases there could prove to undermine the long-term feasibility of this offshore basin.

Then there is the case of Rovuma LNG in Mozambique which is planned to have an eventual capacity of up to 18Million tons/yr. The project has stalled for security reasons…yet ENI in the meantime has shipped its first LNG cargo from its Coral-Sul FLNG, Mozambique, much to the embarrassment of both ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies. Eni’s pole position that the company has achieved with its Coral-Sul project will no doubt exact a price from both ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies. What effect will this have for the development of Rovuma LNG?

ENI’s dexterity will no doubt help buoy up the company. Aside from its Coral-Sul FLNG triumph the company’s development strategy will ensure its role at the energy transition table. A key ENI strategy  is developing a series of joint-ventures to ensure that ENI can achieve maximum leverage for its current oil and gas assets and at the same pursuing new strategies as part of its energy transition plan. One  example:

Azule Energy, Angola, a 50-50 joint venture between ENI and BP formed in 2022 to include both companies’upstream assets, LNG and solar business. Azule Energy is now Angola’s largest independent equity producer of oil and gas, holding 2 billion barrels equivalent of net resources and growing to about 250,000 barrels equivalent per day (boed) of equity oil and gas production over the next 5 years. It holds stakes in 16 licences (of which 6 are exploration blocks) and a participation in Angola LNG JV. The company also participates in the New Gas Consortium(NGC), the first non-associated gas project in the country.

BP key strategy in 2020 was to build a green investment structure, which would require only a few skilled accountants. The company has either sacked employees or delegated BP’s headcount to its joint ventures. The goal was to become lean and mean, reducing costs and, hopefully, increasing margins.

Oil production would decrease by 40% by 2030. Now BP has backtracked. Its capital budget for 2023 is in the range of $16-$18Billion; divided evenly between oil and gas and renewables.

BP has entered into  a joint-venture with Equinor to become a non-operating partner in the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind assets off the USA’s east coast. In September 2020 it was announced that BP was buying a 50% non-operating share, a basis for furthering a strategic relationship. The two projects will generate 4.4 GW of energy.

Both BP and Equinor have insufficient budgets and economies of scale to be competitive with the Green Alliance. Therefore,  do not be surprised if Equinor and BP  fully merge their offshore wind assets in order to become a  global  offshore wind company. Guaranteed the green competition is following the outcome of this poker game.

Final Remarks

Big Oil’s transition politics is in various stages of denial:

ExxonMobil and Chevron continue, without abatement, to pump oil;

Shell, under its new leadership, has also wrapped itself in the mantel of hydrocarbons;

BP is still under the notion that it can pump oil and be green;

TOTALEnergies has given us a 2050 energy transition roadmap which will require much deciphering;

Eni is skirting around the energy perimeters in search of more energy bargains;

Equinor, unfortunately, will only remain Europe’s gas champion.

For New Energy— Enel, Engie, Iberdrola, and Ørsted— and the accompanying supply chain start-ups  such as Battolyser, their story must still to be told. A story moving at an incredible speed which will have global ripple affects throughout the globe including Africa.

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Kreeft has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and is a guest contributor to IEEFA(Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis). His book ‘The 10 Commandments of the Energy Transition ‘is on sale at






€7Billion Worth of Chinese Made Solar Panels Sitting In Warehouses in Europe

Chinese-manufactured solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are piling up in European warehouses, with approximately 40 gigawatts-direct current* (GWdc) of capacity currently in storage – the same amount installed across the continent in 2022. These solar panels in storage are worth about €7 billion and could generate enough electricity to power 20 million homes per year. The build-up is only set to grow this year, with Rystad Energy forecasting 100 GWdc of solar capacity in storage by the end of 2023.

Europe’s spending on solar imports has almost quadrupled in the last five years, surging from €5.5 billion in 2018 to more than €20 billion last year, while the supply source has become increasingly concentrated. An overwhelming €18.5 billion, equal to 91% of all PV import expenditure, was spent on Chinese products, as volatile panel prices impacted buying decisions. A critical shortage of solar-grade polysilicon – a crucial raw material in manufacturing PV modules – in 2021 and 2022, coupled with rising demand for installed solar PV, contributed to soaring panel prices worldwide. As China dominates both the production and processing of polysilicon into PV modules, Chinese manufacturers have been increasingly able to undercut the competition on price. Today, panels made in China often cost as little as two-thirds of European-manufactured capacity.

Market watchers might think that the healthy inventory levels could signal an import slowdown on the horizon, but the first few months of 2023 tell a different story. Imports in January were 17% higher compared to 2022, with February up 22%, March surging 51%, April up 16%, and May growing 6% over last year. If current import levels continue, 2023 will be a record-breaking year for imports and inventory. Annual imports look set to hit 120 GWdc, far surpassing expected capacity installations of 63 GWdc.

“European countries are desperate to get their hands on affordable solar infrastructure to advance their renewable energy targets, decarbonize and avoid paying elevated prices for new capacity. Although efforts are underway to build a reliable solar supply chain in Europe, the need for panels now means leaders cannot wait until 2025 or later to buy European,” says Marius Mordal Bakke, senior supply chain analyst at Rystad Energy.

*Solar panels produce direct current electricity, which then must go through an inverter to convert into alternating current before the power enters the grid. There is a degree of power lost in the inversion process, which is factored into our research.

Learn more with Rystad Energy’s Renewables & Power Solution.

Energy policies and the green transition continue to drive demand for European solar PV growth. Since 2022, the Green Deal Industrial Plan (GDIP), REPowerEU, and the Net Zero Industry Act have all set ambitious solar PV goals. These goals include a target for 30 GWdc of European manufacturing along the entire value chain by 2025 and 40% of installed solar PV being manufactured within the continent by 2030.

Despite these ambitious goals, between 2019 and 2022, locally-made modules could not keep pace with the growth of imported panels. From 2021 to 2022, the amount of Chinese solar modules imported by European countries increased by 112% to about 87 GWdc. The installation rate in these countries has yet to meet anticipated levels, resulting in a sizeable gap of almost 47 GWdc in 2022 in shipped versus installed modules.

Judging by the market in 2023 to date, we expect Chinese imports to increase by 38% annually and reach 120 GWdc. While installations will gain momentum – jump 57% versus last year to hit about 63 GWdc – the gap will widen in absolute terms, with a difference of 57.4 GWdc at year end.

The imports are heading to several key destinations, including the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Poland, France, Greece, Italy, and the UK. The Netherlands was the standout leader in Chinese PV imports in 2022, bringing in almost 45 GWdc alone, more than ten times the amount of panels installed domestically across the year. Spain, Germany and France also imported more panels from China than they installed from any source. Greece has a similar profile to the Netherlands but on a smaller scale, with the country installing the equivalent of only 15% of the capacity imported from China.

Despite last year’s stockpiling, enduring robust imports and muted solar installation activity will inevitably lead to overstocking in Europe. Solar PV installation bottlenecks – like labor shortages and critical material delays – will most likely sustain until 2025, but the continent’s excessive inventory means panel prices are unlikely to see any meaningful increases.

With the current technology transition in the solar industry – from P-type to N-type cells – and incentives for purchasing European-manufactured panels, stockpiled products could face declining interest from European buyers if left in storage too long. However, that is not likely in the short term until the continent can advance its manufacturing capabilities.



Release by Scatec Raises 102Million to Accelerate Growth in Renewable Energy Development

Release by Scatec signed an agreement to raise $102Million (NOK 1Billion) in funding from Climate Fund Managers (CFM) to further accelerate its growth ambitions.

Release was established by Scatec ASA in 2019 to offer a flexible leasing solution of pre-assembled and modular solar and battery equipment for the mining and utilities market.

CFM is a leading climate-centric blended finance fund manager backed by FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, and Sanlam Infraworks, part of the Sanlam Group of South Africa. The company invested in Release via its Climate Investor One (CIO) fund; a blended finance vehicle focused on renewable energy infrastructure in emerging markets. CFM will contribute USD 55 million in equity for a 32% stake in Release. Scatec, a renewable energy frontrunner in emerging markets, will retain the majority shareholding of 68%. CFM will also provide shareholder loans totalling USD 47 million, part of which will be on concessional terms.

“We are very excited to have Climate Fund Managers join us as a partner to accelerate the significant growth potential of the Release platform. Scatec is establishing a strong partnership and has raised external financing through a value accretive transaction to fund Release’s growth ambitions. Release is offering a unique renewable energy solution in a rapidly growing market segment that requires a different business model than Scatec’s larger scale project business,” says Scatec CEO, Terje Pilskog, who is also the Chair of Release.

“Today’s transaction establishes Release as a strong and independent company while Scatec remains the main shareholder and offers services to support Release and drive synergies in the next phase of the company’s development,” adds Pilskog.

Release is experiencing good traction in the market, particularly towards African utilities. It has projects in operation and under construction in Cameroon, South-Africa, Mexico, and South-Sudan with a total capacity of 47 MW solar PV and 20 MWh of battery storage and has additional contracts for 35 MW solar PV and 20 MWh of storage in Chad, in addition to maturing its advanced pipeline. Release intends to replicate its rapid deployment model to address shortfalls in local grid power supplies throughout the region.

“We are excited to have a partner as strong as CFM on board and one who shares our view of the potential and aspirations for our business concept. The new shareholder funding will be supplemented by Release through additional debt and guarantee facilities that are currently in advanced negotiations. This gives us the financial foundation we need to meet the strong demand for our flexible leasing model, for easily deployable renewable power plants,” says Release CEO, Hans Olav Kvalvaag.

“CFM’s purpose is to help end the climate crisis. We do this by raising and deploying cutting-edge blended finance funds at scale and at pace. Our blended finance model facilitated the integration of impact finance into the deal structure, which Release will be able to leverage to improve its cost structure for its battery and grid connection solutions, allowing Release to offer even more competitive pricing and better value to its clients. We are delighted to support the Release team as they roll-out their critical climate technology across Africa, helping significantly reduce the emissions of the mining and utility sectors,” says CFM CEO, Andrew Johnstone.

After closing of the transaction, Release will be accounted for as a joint venture investment in the group accounts of Scatec, which will generate an accounting gain of approximately $40Million in the consolidated financials at closing. There will be no impact on the proportionate financials from the transaction. Closing of the transaction is expected in the third quarter of 2023, subject to customary conditions precedent.

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), a division of First Rand Bank Limited, acted as the sole financial advisor to Scatec on the transaction.

Egypt and Ethiopia Work to End Dispute Over Africa’s Largest Hydropower Plant

By Okot Njoroge, in Nairobi

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi have agreed to accelerate talks to find a solution to the long-running dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

GERD is Africa’s largest hydropower project, with 6,000MW capacity, more than double Ethiopia’s current generating capacity, and will rank among the world’s 10 biggest hydropower plants.

Addis Ababa and Cairo say they are targeting the wrap up of an agreement before November 2023, bringing an end to years of bitter negotiations over how to share the Nile’s water.

Ethiopia will continue to fill the reservoir for the rest of 2023 but has pledged to do so in a way that doesn’t cause “significant harm” to Egypt and Sudan and continues to meet their water needs, according to a joint statement by Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia commenced electricity generation from one of the turbines of the vast dam on February 20, 2022. Located on the Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, GERD is estimated to cost anything from $4Billion to $6.4Billion at full completion. it is largely financed by government bonds.

Ethiopia’s first phase filling of the dam was in July 2020, during which 4.9Billion cubic metres of water was collected. The second phase, in 2021, raised the volume to 18.4Billion cubic metres of water. The 74Billion cubic metre -capacity dam is expected to take five to seven years to fill.

Egypt, which lies downstream of the Nile, has maintained that GERD is a significant threat to its water supply.

Ethiopia argues that “the dam will be very beneficial to all … helping store Nile water, which can be used in the case of a drought,” President Ahmed said in a statement.



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