Dekemhare 30 MW Solar PV Project

AfDB, Eritrea Sign $50 million Dekemhare 30 MW Solar PV Project

Development News

AfDB is assisting the Eritrean government in deploying a 30 MW solar PV project in Dekemhare, a town located 40km south of the capital Asmara.

The Eritrean government signed a $50 million protocol agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to implement the Dekemhare 30 MW Solar Photo Voltaic project which will be integrated directly with that of the Hirgigo Electricity Power Plant.

Both the Bank (91%) and the government (9%) will finance the total cost of the project.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Giorgis Teklemichael, Minister of Finance and National Development, and Dr. Abdul Kamara, Deputy Director of the African Development Bank.

The Bank’s intervention in the energy sector in Eritrea is extremely critical given the need to upgrade the power system to allow the country to deliver more power to areas that have been already connected but are yet to receive electricity.

The implementation component consists of design, manufacture, supply and installation of 30 MW ac grid-connected solar PV power plant with a 15 MW/ 30 MWh Battery Energy Storage System (PV/BESS), and the associated 33/66 kV substation and 66 kV power evacuation lines connecting to the existing Asmara East- Dekemhare transmission line about 1 km from the project site in a loop-in-loop-out arrangement.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Giorgis said that the energy project is an important step towards realizing Eritrea’s plan to increase access to electricity and enhance socio-economic development of all Eritreans.

Dr. Giorgis further noted that the Government of Eritrea is working on installing power plants generating 360 MW and that the protocol agreement aligned with the other ongoing projects will have significant input in the future rapid, inclusive, sustainable development, marked by a firm embrace of green economy.

Eritrea is currently going through a major electricity crisis because of insufficient available generation capacity to satisfy grid connected customers.

Although the integrated grid system installed generation capacity is about 151 MW (of mainly diesel fuel power plants), only 35 MW is the available capacity for service (against an estimated peak demand of about 70 MW) as frequent breakdowns and lack of maintenance spare parts due to sanctions have slowed down rehabilitation efforts. As a result, the socioeconomic activities of the beneficiary communities are adversely affected by acute load shedding.

In April 2020, the Government published the “Eritrea Vision 2030: A Strategy for Inclusive and Sustainable Development”. That report projects among others a future of rapid, inclusive, sustainable development, marked by a firm embrace of the green economy. Regarding infrastructure, and sustainable energy in particular, Vision 2030 underscores that

“Access to power is a fundamental aspect of economic growth. It needs to be provided both at household level and at national level to allow human interaction and economic production. Eritrea shall be smartly and uniquely positioned as Africa’s first and leading national Green Economy under Vision 2030. As such, efforts to rebuild and expand a sustainable power structure for Eritrea shall be based on renewable energy”.

To deliver on the strategic objectives, Vision 2030 specifically identifies 7 pillars for focus and actions: (i) Green economy, (ii) Food security, (iii) Basic infrastructure, (iv) Priority sectors (Agriculture & Forestry, Sustainable Tourism, Trade, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy, Mining), (v) Investing in the people, (vi) Land ownership & city masterplan, and (vii) Peace and security.

In this context, the project is line with the objectives of the Eritrea National Energy Policy 2018 (draft) which underpins Eritrea’s vision 2030 and aims to increase the electrification rate across the country and supply 20% of electric power demand through renewable energy sources by 2030.

It also directly contributes to the United Nations SDG-7 on ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean modern energy, SDG-13 on taking action to combat climate change and its impacts through modernizing the infrastructure and by making the necessary changes to protect the environment, SDG-9 on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation, and is linked to SDG-8 on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment and decent work.