The 20MW Golomoti Solar PV and Battery Energy Storage project in the Dedza district of Malawi, developed by Canada’s JCM Power and InfraCo Africa has started commercial operations, according to an announcement by the developers announced this week.
The project is the first utility-scale grid-connected hybrid solar and battery energy storage project in sub-Saharan Africa.
Construction for the project started in April 2021. The renewable energy power plant includes a 28,5MWp solar array, coupled with a 5MW/10MWh lithium-ion battery. The solar energy facility will provide 20MW of much needed power to Malawi’s grid.
The Golomoti power plant is JCM Power’s second renewable energy project in Malawi after the 60MW Salima Solar project entered operations in October 2021.
“We are proud to announce the completion of our second solar project in Malawi which is a pioneering solar and energy storage project that will serve as a catalyst for many similar projects in the future,” said Christian Wray, CEO of JCM Power.
“In addition to developing and financing the project, JCM Power managed the execution of the works and, despite numerous challenges due to impacts from the global Covid-19 pandemic, we are pleased with the speed of project execution, the positive economic benefits delivered to Malawi and all while keeping our employees and communities safe.” added Wray.
Reducing output variation through storage
JCM says the battery system of the project will help reduce variation in output during cloud cover, dispatch energy in the evening peak, and support controlling voltage and frequency of the grid.
Through construction, the project created over 550 jobs, of which 85% were local jobs for Malawians. Environmentally, the project has negligible impact, specifically with the power plant being designed to preserve ancient baobabs which were on the site.
Other partners involved in making the project a reality include USAID which provided critical development funding, Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst program which provided grant funding for the batteries, and the IFU which provided JCM with debt financing.