- E & S
- ACADEMIC CORNER
Over the past year, GET FiT Uganda has taken several considerable steps towards full materialization of its project portfolio. As perhaps one the most important highlights of 2016, eight projects managed to reach financial close with their lenders in 2016, thus bringing the total up to 11 out of 17 projects. This effectively means that in terms of installed generation capacity (MW), 63 percent of the portfolio is now financially secured. This, combined with the equally important fact that 74 percent of the portfolio is now under construction or commissioned (12 out of 17 projects), bodes for great optimism going into the final years of Program implementation.
In November, the Soroti solar PV project (10 MW) was commissioned as Uganda’s first on-grid solar power plant.
This milestone for the Ugandan power sector marked the beginning of a potentially bright solar powered future for the country. The official opening attracted great publicity and manifested the position of Uganda’s power
sector as a progressive one, determined to reach its ambitious targets for national electrification through investment in renewables with private sector involvement.
Following the break-through year of 2015, where the first six GET FiT hydropower projects commenced construction, another three were able to break ground in 2016. Thus after a year of widespread construction activities across the hydropower portfolio, 2017 is likely to become the year of commissioning for the first plants. The first two are expected to go operational in March, while several others will follow throughout the year. With the remainder also commencing construction within the first few months of this year, construction supervision and flexible follow-up of any unforeseen technical issues will continue to be a core activity of the GET FiT team.
Adding to the above, construction of critical grid infrastructure for power evacuation of GET FiT projects will be commenced under the support of GET FiT development partners. This will not only cater for successful implementation of the portfolio, but also strengthen the national grid and pave the way for further renewable energy development and electrification. Moreover, ERA will benefit from improved regulatory frameworks and comprehensive capacity building in key areas of its core business through the extensive technical assistance provided as part of the Program. Hence, 2017 is likely to become a highly productive, fruitful and exciting year for GET FiT stakeholders and the Ugandan power sector.
It is uplifting also to note that the environmental and social performance across the project portfolio has improved noticeably in 2016. GET FiT continues to provide substantial support to developers in complying with international standards on issues such as resettlement, compensation, health and safety. This is vital not only to safeguard the overall success and legacy of the Program, but also to build developer capacity and to ensure sustainable utilization of Uganda’s small-scale RE potential for years to come. During GET FiT implementation, some developers have made impressive improvements in their capacity to manage a range of environmental and social issues. As a consequence of GET FiT, there is now a considerably higher degree of compliance with Ugandan and international standards than would otherwise have been observed.