Mozambique: Realizing Electrification Objectives Through Solar

Mozambique has attracted global attention with its emerging Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry, with notable projects including Total’s Mozambique LNG Area 1 development; ExxonMobil’s Rovuma LNG Liquefaction plant; and the Coral South Floating LNG Treatment and Liquefaction facility. With the potential to stimulate job creation, capacity building, widespread electrification and industrialization, LNG has captured substantial amounts of foreign direct investment. That said, the country’s solar resources also represent an efficient power generation solution, particularly for remote areas in which grid connection is unfeasible.

Mozambique holds significant solar potential – an estimated 2.7GW – that could be developed for both grid-connected and off-grid rural electrification projects country-wide, and yet remains largely untapped. According to the Renewable Energy Atlas, 189 locations have been identified for grid-connected power plants, with a total potential capacity of 599MW. With current installed capacity in the country estimated at just 2.2MW, 70MW currently under construction and 300MW under study, opportunities for expanded solar development are vast.

Several solar projects are currently underway across the country, with more to gain traction in the following months. Notably, the 40MW Mocuba Solar Independent Power Producer (IPP) project, developed by Norway’s Scatec Solar, is the only large-scale solar facility in the country at present. The project has increased Mozambique’s total installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity from 17MW at the end of 2018 to 60MW currently. Additionally, the Government has commissioned the construction of the Metoro Solar Power Plant in the Cabo Delgado province. Developed by French-based renewable energy company Neoen, the 41MW plant will cost approximately $56 million, provide electricity to an estimated 150,000 households and create up to 380 jobs. The Government has also launched a call for tenders for the development of three solar PV projects, which should enable IPPs to add 120MW to the national grid.

One of the primary challenges regarding electrification in Mozambique is the proportion of its population living in rural communities. With only 27% of households currently connected to the national grid, the Government faces the challenge of developing viable off-grid solutions, if it is to achieve national electrification objectives. Accordingly, the Government aims to increase rural access to electricity using both the national grid and household systems. In its updated National Energy Strategy (2014-2023), the Mozambican Government has outlined electrification objectives that include 50% access to electricity by 2023 and 100% access by 2030, with related goals targeting social development, poverty alleviation and the establishment of the country as a leading regional energy producer.With the cost of solar infrastructure decreasing, driven by rapidly increasing investment and innovation globally, the Strategy positions off-grid solutions as an ideal method of electrification.

By prioritizing off-grid solutions, Mozambique may be able to achieve ambitious electrification objectives, in conjunction with world class gas developments. That said,such objectives can only be achieved by leveraging the role of the private sector. In fact, the market potential for private sector-led, off-grid electrification is identified as approximately four million households, according to the Global Green Growth Institute. By nurturing public-private partnerships and implementing regulation that supports foreign investment, electrification objectives could not only be met, but surpassed.  

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