German firm to install floating solar panels on Lake Malawi for energy generation

By Duncan Mlanjira

One of the independent power producers (IPPs) that have signed power purchase agreements with Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), German firm Droege Energy, intends to install floating solar power panels on the Lake Malawi at Monkey Bay in Mangochi to generate power to be linked onto the ESCOM grid.

This was disclosed at the signing ceremony of 14 power purchase agreements (PPAs) involving ESCOM, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and three other IPPs held last week at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

Fields displaying his PPA

Droege Energy’s Strategic Key Account Manager, Carlos Giron said this project, operating in Mangochi under the name of Monkey Bay Solar Floating Plant Limited, will be the first of its kind in Africa and the project is expected to be completed within a year to generate 20 megawatts of power.

“We want to build a project that all Malawians will be proud of and to boast of as this will be the first of its kind in Africa,” Giron said. “Malawians should also expect to be provided with the best and affordable energy services once this project rolls of.”

Chairperson Mpinganjira and Escom management

Another project that Droege Energy has signed the PPA with ESCOM is the Mphamvu Mzimba Wind Farm Limited, which is expected to generate 50 megawatts of power and will also be the first of its kind in the southern part of Africa in as far as wind powered energy generation is concerned.

Three other IPPs that have signed the PPAs are QUANTEL Renewable Energy Limited, Kanengo Solar Project Limited, Atlas and Energy Generation Company (EGENCO).

QUANTEL’s Chief Executive Officer, Melvin Fields said the signing of this PPA is a clear manifestation of ESCOM’s commitment to eradicate the electricity challenges facing the country. 

Part of the delegates

“The PPA signed today is within the framework of a foreign direct investment (FDI) which shall see QUANTEL Renewable Energy and its partners build a 50 megawatts solar PV energy-powered facility park in the Northern part of Malawi at Ulalo Nyirenda Village, T/A Jalavikuwa Bwengu  in Mzimba District. 

“QUANTEL Renewable Energy Ltd is a Consortium of American Companies incorporated in Malawi through partnership with a local company, Inspired Group Limited to produce solar energy.”

He said QUANTEL did feasibility studies in Malawi in 2016 in Salima, Karonga and Mzimba districts and that in August last year, ESCOM approved the Mzimba Bwengu site for the development of the 50 megawatts solar power Park, which is on 125 acres of land. 

Both ESCOM and MERA were upbeat of this development, which in total now has 20 IPPs and expected to generate extra energy close to 367 megawatts.

ESCOM Board’s chairperson, Dr. Thomson Mpinganjira strongly implored the IPPs to honour their part of the bargain by making sure they complete their projects wishing the time frame they have signed for.

He said other IPPs have let ESCOM and MERA down by failing to roll out their projects except Mulanje Hydro.

“This, however, is a moment we can be proud of as we strive to provide the best energy services across the country and even beyond our borders,” he said.

Both CEOs of ESCOM, Dr. Allexon Chiwaya and MERA’s Dr. Collins Magalasi applauded the IPPs saying this was a historic moment in making sure load shedding and power blackouts should be a thing of the past.

Chiwaya and Magalasi both said this time around there is a provision that those that will fail to deliver within the time frame indicated, their licenses shall be revoked and offered to those with the capacity.

Summary of the 14 PPAs signed is as follows:

1. EGENCO

Hydro

a) Nkula A hydro power plant 

b) Nkula B hydro power plant 

c) Tedzanihydropowerplant 

d) Kapichira hydro power plant 

e) Wovwe hydro power plant

Thermal (diesel)

a) Mzuzu thermal (diesel) power plant

b) Mapanga thermal (diesel) power plant 

c) LilongweAthermal(diesel)powerplant 

d) Kanengo II thermal (diesel) power plant 

e) KanengoIthermal(diesel)powerplant

2. DROEGE

I. 20MW floating panels Solar PV Power Plant in Monkey Bay, Mangochi

II. 50MW Mzimba Wind Farm

3. QUANTEL

I. 50MW Solar PV project at Bwengu, in Mzimba district in the republic of Malawi

4. Kanengo Solar Project Limited (ATLAS)

I. 20MWac Solar PV Project with battery storage at Kanengo in Lilongwe, Malawi