Grid interconnection support provided through GET FiT

To secure full power evacuation from all the projects approved under GET FiT, it is vital to address the critical grid bottlenecks identified through the Joint Interconnection Task Force1 prior to commissioning of several of the projects. The task force has proposed a range of interventions, and several development partners have committed support to both infrastructure investments and related TA support. The total investment need amounts to some USD 90M. It is important to note that the proposed investments are in line with Uganda’s overall long term power system development plan, and generally provide benefits to the national grid in addition to serving the GET FiT directly. Financing for most of the interconnection components has now been secured, following the comprehensive assessments carried out in 2014.

  1. The following investments are made in a wider grid development perspective outside the GET FiT programme umbrella but benefit interconnection of GET FiT projects:
     
    • The EU has financed the feasibility study of the Mbale – Bulambuli 132 kV transmission grid extension through KfW, which commenced end of January 2016. Additionally, in December 2014, Germany committed to provide a concessionary loan of up to EUR 40M to the project (subject to positive appraisal by KfW based on the feasibility study). To ensure the full financing of the estimated EUR 50M investment costs, KfW intends to apply for additional grant funding from the EU for the transmission line and associated access-to-energy measures.  The line is critical for power evacuation from the hydropower projects Siti I and Siti II in the GET FiT portfolio, but also for development of the regional grid in a wider perspective.  In order to facilitate the timely evacuation of Siti I and II power plants, the Government of Uganda through REA has agreed to fund the upgrade of the 33 kV infrastructure in the vicinity of the power plants to Mbale substation. The more robust 132 kV line is expected in 2020.
       
    • The World Bank is in principle prepared to provide funding for the  upgrade of transformer capacity at Nkenda Substation from the existing 40 MVA to 120 MVA. This upgrade is required for interconnection of several GET FiT hydropower schemes in Western Uganda.
       
    • Additionally, the Governments of Norway, Germany and the World Bank are already involved in various transmission line extension projects in Uganda together with other development partners. 

       
  2. While also beneficial for the broader grid development, the following investments are to a large extent directed towards interconnection of GET FiT projects (GET FiT interconnection Support Component).

UK DFID has approved and committed funding through KfW for

  1. 33 kV grid reinforcements in Western Uganda (USD 13M) critical to ensure adequate interconnection of several GET FiT hydropower schemes in Western Uganda. Award for supervision engineer is expected in February, followed by EPC tendering. Construction start is expected within 2016.
     
  2. Opuyo transmission substation upgrade (USD 5.8M). This is a key substation for development of the vast solar power potential in the Soroti area of Eastern Uganda, where the Soroti I and II solar PV plants are being developed under GET FiT. Tender documents for a design and supervision consultant and as well required works are currently being developed by UETCL with help of a tender agent.
     
  3. TA support to ERA (USD 3.7M) under the GET FiT TA facility. Evaluation of consultant bids for the development of an interconnection code and wheeling agreement is completed and contract award expected by early February 2016. Another tender on assisting ERA in improving the compliance monitoring of distribution companies is ongoing. See sections 2.3.2 and 2.3.3 below for more details.

The GET FiT Secretariat will continue in its role as an observing member of the Joint Task Force, and support ERA, UETCL, REA and distribution companies in the coordinated and timely implementation of grid upgrades. An important task for the Secretariat in the coming year will be to monitor progress of grid investments, and facilitate communication and coordination between all stakeholders.

 

1) The Joint Task Force (JTF) is comprised of technical experts from ERA, UETCL, Uganda’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and the private distribution company Umeme, with the GET FiT Secretariat in an observatory role. The JTF is chaired by ERA.