The use of solar as an alternative source of energy has in the recent times gained global acclaim and developing countries like Uganda are adjusting and making reforms in their regulatory frameworks to allow and facilitate critical investment. Richer countries like France have pledged to fund efforts such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA), one of the practical off-shoots of COP21, the Global Climate Summit that was held in Paris, France in November, 2016.
And indeed, during the launch of the ISA, in New Delhi, India, in 2017, France president Mr. Emmanuel Macron pledged €700 million euros (about $862m at the time) by 2022 to help developing countries with their solar energy projects. The ISA garners for increased deployment of solar energy technologies as a means for bringing energy access, ensuring energy security, and driving energy transition in its member countries.
To become a beneficiary, Uganda ratified the ISA Treaty making her a member. According to sources, Uganda is a participant in two of the ISA’s critical programmes: the program for ‘scaling solar applications for agricultural use’ and Affordable finance at scale. Uganda has submitted its priority to use solar energy and through synergies with India, the host nation of ISA, the country has been receiving demonstration solar water pumping systems for irrigation.
The three top priorities of ISA are; identification of solar projects; mobilization of public and private finance at scale with a focus on guarantee instruments; and transfer of innovative technology solutions and capacity-building.
So far 32 of the 60 member countries who have joined the Alliance are from Africa. The Alliance will provide a platform to collaborate in addressing identified gaps through a common, agreed approach. Uganda hopes to use solar water pumping systems for irrigation.
Busia Solar Power Plant
The agreement for establishing the $6mn 4MW solar power plant was signed in Egypt in May 2018, between the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), on the sidelines of President Museveni’s visit to Egypt.
The project is fully funded by the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and implemented by the Arab Organization for Industrialization, in collaboration with Giza Systems.
The plant has been completed and handed over to the government of Uganda on Tuesday 25 January 2022, during a ceremony organized by MEMD. It is the latest of major Egyptian developmental projects in Uganda, including the Egyptian Medical Center in Jinja and the launch of new phase of the Egyptian-Ugandan Model Joint Farm.
Meeting Uganda’s rising energy demand
The plant will support the Ugandan energy sector to meet the rising energy demand in a climate–friendly manner. The 4MW production of solar power offsets 126.000 tons of harmful CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of planting over 2,964,400 trees or removing 22.324 cars from the road for a year. It will also generate 36 million dollars in saving over the lifetime of the plant’s systems. When connected to the national grid, it will meet the needs of the Eastern Uganda region.
The plant is also the first to be operated by an educational institution in Uganda – Busitema University – and will support transfer of technology, technical cooperation and capacity building. It will also increase the feasibility of the development of on grid solar photovoltaic for electricity generation in Uganda.
The existing solar data clearly show that the solar energy resource in Uganda is high throughout the year. The mean solar radiation is 5.1 kWh/m 2 per day, on a horizontal surface. This level of insolation is quite favorable, for the application n of a number of solar technologies.
Great potential for poverty eradication
The total new installed photovoltaic capacity annually is estimated at 200 kWp for households, institutions and commercial use. Solar thermal has a great potential in the form of solar water heaters in electrified areas.
Today electricity is most often used for water heating, in spite of the fact that it will in many cases be cheaper for the consumer to use solar energy. Furthermore, small solar water heaters are relevant for remote areas, where hot water is needed like in rural clinics and tourism areas, to provide a cheap, reliable and environmentally friendly, source of energy.
The Solar PV Plants in Uganda include Tororo Solar PV (10 MW) in Tororo district, Access Solar PV (10 MW) in Soroti district, Xsabo Solar (20 MW) in Kabulasoke and Emerging Power U Ltd (10MW) in Mayuge district, as well as Tororo PV Power Project (Tororo PV Power Co. Ltd) and Engie Equatorial and Power Distribution at Lolwe Island (600KW).
Energy services such as lighting, heating, cooking, motive power, mechanical transport and telecommunication are essential for socioeconomic development, since they yield social benefits, create employment and generate income. These issues are at the core of poverty eradication and national development.