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Mubende solar plant due for commissioning next month

Part of the Xsabo Nkonge solar power plant. PHOTO URN

Mubende, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The 20 megawatt solar plant in Kasambya Subcounty, Mubende district is due to be commissioned by the end of next month, according to the owners, Xsabo Group Ltd.

The project that has so far cost 21 million dollars with financing from Uganda Development Bank Ltd (UDBL), is the second one developed and set to be operated by Xsabo after the Kabulasoke plant in Gombe District.

The Nkonge Project is planned to sell electricity to the national grid at 7.1 cents per kilowatt hour (about 280 shillings a unit at the current exchange rate), which is the lowest price for power from any solar plant, according to Sarah Wesagali Kanaabi, the deputy Executive Director, Electricity Regulatory Authority.

Kanaabi says that after the end of the 20-year Xsabo contract, the plant will be handed over to the government under the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd.

She was touring the plant on Wednesday to assess the progress of the work. UDBL, the main financier of the project says the solar plant meets it’s sustainability policies, the reason why it was supported, on top of being locally-owned. These sustainability points include social welfare contribution in terms of provision of water in the water-scarce cattle corridor area, contribution to the economy through lower tariff costs, and environmental sustainability as a renewable and clean energy project among others.

Kanaabi also revealed that there are many projects that have been profiled and considered good enough but are lying on the shelves for lack of funding.She says that, unfortunately, most of these are majorly locally owned, and calls on financial institutions to take interest in them.

The plant on 156 acres of land comprises 36,000 panels and, together with the one at Kabulasoke, is said to be the largest in East and Central Africa.

David Alobo, the CEO, Xsabo says that the plant is also the most modern in sub-Saharan Africa, considering the efficiency, safety, operational and other artificial intelligence-enabled systems, including the panels automatically changing directions according to the movement of the sun. This helps the plant generate as much energy as possible from the sun.

These investments are part of a 200 million dollar planned investment of the Xsabo Group in Uganda for a total capacity of 150 megawatts, including the 50 megawatt Lira plant that, if completed, would be the largest solar power ant in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa.

Alobo said that the plant itself is complete while the substation is 80 percent complete, awaiting the arrival of a switch to kick of production.

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