Mega Solar on the way
The US, Namibia and Botswana advance a clean energy future
25 April 2021 | Energy
The summit convened world leaders to galvanize efforts to keep the vital goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. The Biden-Harris Administration selected the Mega Solar Project as an outcome of the summit.
Mega Solar is a partnership between the governments of Namibia, Botswana and others, which is expected to generate up to five gigawatts of solar power and to avoid an estimated 6.5 million tons of CO² annually – the equivalent of taking almost 1.5 million cars off the road.
The Mega Solar project is a part of USAID’s Power Africa Initiative, which is committed to assisting the southern Africa region transform from reliance on fossil fuels to clean energy, enabling a path to decarbonization.
A memorandum of intent was signed between all partners this month.
“I am very excited that Namibia, Botswana, the United States, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the African Development Bank have taken important steps forward together on the Mega Solar Project,” US Ambassador Lisa Johnson said.
“When fully realized, Mega Solar could be one of the largest solar parks in the world, generating 3 000 to 5 000 megawatts of energy,” Johnson added. “This could transform Namibia and Botswana into two of the globe’s most significant producers of solar power, enough to begin exporting renewable energy to the southern Africa region. Beyond the economic potential, Mega Solar will help decarbonize southern Africa and will make a significant contribution to global efforts on climate change.”
Mega Solar’s initial goal is to provide additional power from solar photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal technologies to meet local demand, an ultimate benefit of the collaborative efforts of the Mega Solar partners in strengthening the institutional and technical capacity as well as legal and regulatory frameworks of the focal countries.
Mark Carrato, USAID’s Coordinator of Power Africa, said, “Simply put, this milestone agreement, with Botswana and Namibia demonstrating unprecedented leadership and collaboration, moves Mega Solar from the concept phase to the action phase.”
“Unlocked by this partnership is the extraordinary development potential for life and globe changing clean energy, emanating from southern Africa on a pioneering scale of massive productive use,” Carrato added.
The Power Africa Initiative is making a difference across sub-Saharan Africa by improving lives, supporting economic growth, and combating climate change through improved access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity.
Since 2013, Power Africa has leveraged the combined expertise of the private sector and 12 US government agencies to bring 12 000 MW – representing a U$22 billion investment – to financial close.
Power Africa has already connected more than 20.8 million homes and businesses to on- and off-grid solutions, bringing first time electricity to 98 million people across sub-Saharan Africa.