The World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, has proposed a new mega-solar expansion plan in Botswana and Namibia that could provide over 4.5 GW of solar capacity to customers in southern and eastern Africa.
The plan, which has received the backing of Botswana and Namibia government officials and the World Bank, proposes a phased approach to PV and CSP construction.
The first phase would consist of 300 to 500 MW of new PV and CSP capacity built in Botswana and Namibia to supply domestic demand.
"Critical to its success, and in a strong demonstration of political will, the proposed mega-solar project development approach proposes a competitive tendering process that will phase in the solar power,” the World Economic Forum said in a note published August 26.
“The intention is that this initial phase will develop the market and build local capacity for managing the required technologies," it said.
Botswana and Namibia benefit from strong solar irradiance levels, good land availability, and solid investment and regulatory environments. The first phase of construction would require upgrades to domestic transmission networks and would incur risk premiums to cover early development challenges, the forum noted.
The second phase would involve the construction of up to 1 GW of capacity to supply neighboring power markets via upgraded power interconnectors.
In the third phase, a further 3 GW of capacity could be built in order to supply large areas of southern and eastern Africa via regional power pools.
To date, South Africa has the largest operational CSP fleet in Africa, with an installed capacity of 500 MW. Capacity will rise to 600 MW when ACWA Power completes its 100 MW Redstone CSP plant, currently under construction in South Africa's Northern Cape.
South Africa's latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) published in 2018 sets out a least-cost approach to new power generation and includes no explicit support for new CSP projects.