Ethiopia's leap toward solar energy

Small steps can be much larger than they seem, some steps forward become great leaps. Ethiopia, a vibrantly growing economy attracting many investors, will need alternative sources of energy to sustain production and economic growth. It is out of these challenges the country is looking for more clean and renewable energy alternatives. 
The country has embraced partnerships with different players in the field of solar energy. The most recent investment topped more than 600 million US dollars in solar power generation. The Ethiopian government, through Ethiopian Electric Power, signed a memorandum of understanding with a US based Green Technology Africa (GTA) to develop solar energy plants in the country. The deal will help Ethiopian Electric Power develop a 300 MW new solar project in Ethiopia - with the aim of helping the country hit its goal of expanding electricity capacity from the current 55% coverage to 75% by the end of 2015. These projects will be active in the Ethiopian cities of Dire Dawa, Kombolcha and Desse in the next six months. 

A project by the Green Technology Africa

Green Technology Africa has lauded Ethiopia for its efforts to find solutions for a greener country. This praise includes the support for organizations launched internationally by Ethiopians in the Diaspora who have acquired years of training and professional expertise and then choose to return back home to give back to their society.

Why Not Do it Ourselves?

Solar panels capable of producing 236Kw of energy put on display by the Ethiopian Power Engineering Industries (EPEI) at the Addis Ababa Exhibition Centre. Courtesy: Addis Fortune

As a landlocked country, Ethiopia faces a number of challenges getting imports into the country easily and effectively. With these challenges, the country has sourced alternative solutions in achieving cleaner energy sources. Why not do it ourselves? 

The Metals and Engineering Corporation started an initiative of assembling Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels for the first time in Ethiopia. Solar panel production is under construction at Sendafa area in Oromia regional state, 40 km away from Addis Ababa with the aim of increasing solar panels and silicon element production. This plant is an expansion of the solar panel production factory in Tatek area, which is manufacturing more than 20MW panels per year. Upon completion the factory is expected to increase this capacity to 270MW panels. This will facilitate the nation’s initiative to provide electricity to rural areas. This access, remote from the grid system using renewable energy, is a strong direction for the green development strategies. 

The nation continues to promote the use solar energy to replace fuel-based lighting among rural households and off-grid electrical needs. The solar energy project underway by the government is aimed to provide electricity to 25000 houses. A total of 150,000 people are expected to gain access to electricity through this project alone, with a capacity of generating 982 MW of power by the end of 2015. The Solar Panel Production Factory was established under the Ethiopian Power Engineering Industry in the Metals Engineering Corporation two years ago with the objective of producing solar panels and substitute the imports. One more project of many the country has in place to electrify the rural areas using renewable energy sources and minimize the use of fuel in order to obtain a green economy.


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