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JCM adds 20mw to national grid

MPRESSED—Wray

Ibrahim Matola

Barely a month after Malawi said goodbye to diesel power producer Aggreko, solar power producer JCM Power, in conjunction with InfraCo Africa, Tuesday started feeding about 20 megawatts (mw) into the national grid.

The power is being generated through the Golomoti Solar PV and Battery Energy Storage project in Dedza District.

The project includes a 28.5mw solar array coupled with a 5mw/10mwh lithium-ion battery, and will provide 20mw of much needed power to Malawi’s grid.

JCM Power Chief Executive Officer Christian Wray said he was pleased with the speed of executing the project.

“We are proud to announce the completion of our second solar project in Malawi, which is a pioneering solar and energy storage project that will serve as a catalyst for many similar projects in the future.

“In addition to developing and financing the project, JCM Power managed the execution of works and, despite numerous challenges due to impacts of the global Covid pandemic, we are pleased with the speed of project execution, the positive economic benefits delivered to Malawi and all, while keeping our employees and communities safe,” Wray said.

Golomoti is JCM Power’s second renewable energy project in Malawi after the 60mw Salima Solar project started operations in October 2021.

Construction of the project, according to JCM Power, took about 12 months from mobilising to site in March 2021 before reaching commercial operations on March 1, 2022.

The project is the first utility-scale grid-connected hybrid solar and battery energy storage project in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Wray, the project marks a milestone for the region as energy storage serves as an important tool for integrating increasing amounts of renewable energy into utility’s networks.

“The inclusion of the battery system means the project will reduce variation in output during cloud cover, dispatch energy in the evening peak, and support controlling voltage and frequency of the grid,” he said.

Energy Minister Ibrahim Matola was not immediately available for comment yesterday.

During construction, the project created over 550 jobs, of which 85 percent were local jobs for Malawians.

The firm says, environmentally, the project has negligible impact, specifically with the power plant being designed to preserve ancient baobabs which were on the site.

According to JCM, the project is committed to having a positive long term impact and, in partnership with the community, has developed a Social and Economic Development Plan focusing on women empowerment, health and sanitation, and subsistence-based sustainable livelihoods.

The firm says the project has already delivered numerous impact projects related to clean water and education.

The project was supported by USAid, who provided critical development funding, Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme, who provided grant funding for the batteries, and IFU, who provided JCM with debt financing.

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