Launched: EPC Best Practice Guidelines for Solar Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa
31 March 2022 | As the international solar community gathered in Brussels to mark the SolarPower Summit, SolarPower Europe together with GET.invest launched new best practice guidelines for the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of solar projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
The ‘EPC Best Practice Guidelines: sub-Saharan Africa Edition’ is a product of the joint African-European EPC Taskforce that was established in June 2021 steered by SolarPower Europe and supported by GET.invest, assembling 24 leading solar experts from both continents, with representation from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Based on the first edition of SolarPower Europe’s ‘EPC Best Practice Guidelines: Europe Edition’, recommendations in these latest guidelines have been adjusted to reflect the market and business conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, taking the unique aspects of the continent into account.
The new, tailored recommendations, include:
- Methods for better assessing project risk and bankability,
- provisions on the transition between the project development and EPC phases,
- considerations for involvement of local communities in project development,
- specifics on the inclusion on battery storage in power plant design, and
- an overhauled contractual framework that involves new terms and bond categories.
Aimed at solar EPC service providers and other stakeholders, including asset owners, investors, lenders, and technical advisors, these new guidelines aim to establish common industry best practice.
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, described the qualities of the new publication as follows:
“Ensuring universal access to clean, affordable, energy is vital for the socio-economic development of all nations – including those in sub-Saharan Africa. The region has vast solar potential, and these latest solar deployment guidelines should contribute to enhanced public trust, and investor confidence, in sub-Saharan Africa solar installations. SolarPower Europe are proud to support our solar colleagues operating in sub-Saharan Africa, and partner with them in their journey to drive the region’s energy transition.”
Expressing his satisfaction with the collaboration between GET.invest and its long-standing partner SolarPower Europe on the guidelines, Michael Franz, Team Leader at GET.invest, said:
“Quality and reliability are key variables to create investors’ trust and confidence in solar power projects – the higher the overall quality level in the industry rises, the easier it will be to mobilise investments. Given this, we were delighted to support the development of the EPC Best Practice Guidelines for sub-Saharan Africa with support from our donors: the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria. The document provides practical, hands-on tools and advice for a range of stakeholders involved in the development of a PV plant, among them financiers and investors. We are excited to have such a great tool at hand for our finance access advisory work henceforth.”
The ‘EPC Best Practice Guidelines: sub-Saharan Africa Edition’ were launched during the session on “Quality Assurance for Solar Power Plants in Sub-Saharan Africa” which was part of the SolarPower Summit side track focussing on Emerging markets, supported by GET.invest.
Speaking during this session, Chanda Nxumalo, Director of Harmattan Renewables said: “The publication of the Best Practice Guidelines is a major milestone for the South African renewables sector. Through the efforts of many stakeholders, we now have a robust set of practical supporting mechanisms that will enable EPC service providers, consultants, and off-takers to procure, build and operate quality projects. With the continued decline in prices in REIPPP, as well as the much-needed increase in private power purchasing agreements, it is vital that we develop rigorous guidelines to ensure we are adhering to best practice and developing a globally leading industry. Renewables, and the just transition, are vital for both our post-Covid recovery and empowerment of local communities and the Best Practice Guidelines will support us going forward.”
Her fellow-speaker at the session, Dotun Tokun, CEO – Solarmate Engineering, highlighted: “The Best Practice Guidelines will be the go-to document for all stakeholders in the PV industry in sub-Saharan Africa. The guidelines are clear and concise and will also be an assurance, especially to investors and off-takers, that installations built to high-quality standards will run effectively and reliably over their lifecycle.”