Another Landmark YearThe year 2017 was another landmark year for the GET FiT Programme. Following the successes of 2016, another four projects supported by GET FiT were commissioned in 2017, providing a combined power output of 28.1 MW. These comprised the first three hydropower projects to commence operations – Siti I Small Hydropower Project (SHP), Muvumbe SHP, and Rwimi SHP – and the second, and final, solar project – Tororo SPV.
In total, six of the projects supported by GET FiT are now operational, with a combined installed capacity of 58.1 MW, and evacuated approximately 100 GWh of energy to the grid during 2017. This corresponds to around 2.5 percent of the total energy supplied in Uganda in 2017. As the newly commissioned projects all started delivering power during the year, and some have been running at reduced capacity, this percentage is expected to increase significantly during 2018.
Progress on the Ground
Good construction progress was made during 2017 on most of the remaining hydropower projects. Whereas five projects commenced construction, three projects were nearing completion with the aim of achieving commercial operation early during 2018, and a further two projects anticipated achieving commercial operation in Q3 of 2018.
There was, however, notable variation in progress across the portfolio. One project was subjected to an enforced construction stop for several months in order to cure a series of deficiencies and address health, safety, and welfare issues across the site. Another project, located on the border between Uganda and Tanzania, experienced substantial delays due to transboundary issues but had, nonetheless, mobilised to site.
All projects were on the ground before the end of the year – a substantial milestone for the GET FiT Programme – allowing the focus to shift predominantly to construction related activities and setting-up an exciting upcoming year.
A Challenging Year Ahead
Despite the many achievements and progress of the Programme during 2017, 2018 will indeed be a challenging year for many of the hydropower projects under construction. Key challenges include particularly demanding construction schedules and the timely implementation of the power evacuation infrastructure necessary to connect the projects to the grid. For a number of projects, these issues will most likely seriously impact their ability to achieve commercial operation within the 2018 calendar year.
The table below provides a summary on the status of key project milestones across the portfolio. Light grey cells indicate that a milestone has been achieved. The expected dates for key milestones that have not yet been achieved are otherwise shown. Only two projects have yet to achieve financial close, which is expected to be closed-out early during 2018. With the exception of the Kikigati SHP, which experienced substantial delays due to transboundary issues – further details provided in section on Project Status - the developers for all remaining projects are aiming to achieve commercial operation by the end of the 2018 calendar year. Based on the experience of the GET FiT implementation team and the observed progress and capacity of the developers during 2017, however, some projects are likely to overrun into 2019, which is reflected in the table below.
Table 1 – Project milestones overview
 GET FiT recognises the unique challenges experienced by the Kikagati SHP as a result of transboundary issues and the impact this has had on the implementation timeframe. The timing of key Project milestones and their acceptability to GET FiT, ERA, and the donor organisations will be discussed further early in 2018.