Irrigating Sudan’s alfalfa fields with solar power
In Sudan, local corporation Haggar, Dutch solar developer Photon Energy and Swiss Energy Vault are developing a captive solar PV transaction with a groundbreaking new storage solution to supply clean power for irrigation purposes to the GLB farm, a growing agribusiness located about 100 km north of Khartoum.
The installation is innovative, in that the storage solution relies on gravity and an automated cloud-based control software to deliver power around the clock, in a similar method to hydropower stations. Together, the solar PV and storage components will provide the power necessary to irrigate one of the largest center-pivot irrigated alfalfa farms in Sudan, using water pumped from the Nile river. In the country’s hot and dry climate, with decreasing annual rainfalls and increased rainfall variability, climate-friendly, effective and cost-competitive irrigation are critical to food crop production and food security.
Sudan is a high-risk environment currently undergoing political change, which has been considered a barrier to renewable energy investment in the past.
Considering the complex governance aspects of the project and the GLB farm as the sole power-off-taker in the process of financial restructuring, the project developers teamed up with an advisor from the GET.invest Finance Catalyst to make the project ready for investment.
Together with the advisor, the developers worked on their business case proposal and financial structuring, so as to meet international project finance principles. The advisor also supported the assumptions during financial modelling. The result, a sound financial model and business case, enabled the GET.invest Finance Catalyst to establish contact and initiate interest for the project proposal with several leading international development financiers. Additionally, the project developers are in active consultation for funding with the Green Climate Fund and the African Development Bank.
With the support of the GET.invest Finance Catalyst, the transaction is on its way to financial close, expecting a total investment of €36 million for the solar PV and storage components in the first phase. Besides supporting food security, the project will stimulate the regional economy by creating direct and indirect jobs, supporting local SMEs and increasing export volume for the produced crops. Finally, the installation will help pave the way for the large-scale deployment of renewable energy and innovative technology for productive use in Sudan.
Disclaimer: Support to the project is ongoing as of 06-2021. Projected results are subject to change.