Malawi’s President Inaugurates 20MW Solar Battery Hybrid Plant

  • His Excellency Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, has presided over an official inauguration ceremony to mark the addition of 20MWac of additional clean energy to Malawi’s national grid.

Following the inauguration of its 60MWac sister plant – Salima Solar – late last year, the Golomoti Solar plant in Dedza reached commercial operations in March 2022.

Developed by JCM Power and PIDG company InfraCo Africa, the 20MW Golomoti incorporates highly efficient bifacial solar panels and a utility-scale 5MW/10MWh battery energy storage system (BESS), the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and Malawi.

Speaking to an audience of invited guests and members of the local community, His Excellency said: “It has only been six and a half months since I inaugurated the first 60MW solar power plant by JCM. In fact, it was mentioned on that occasion that a second plant was being developed here at Golomoti, aimed at supplying an additional 20MW using the kind of battery energy storage system that promises to give us an energy mix away from fossil fuel-powered generators that contribute to climate change.

“Malawians deserve an energy programme that aligns with our nationally determined goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 51% by 2040. For this reason, I must commend the innovation and speed exemplified by JCM in the implementation of these projects, taking us 80MW closer to our goal of having 1000MW supplied to the grid. Additionally, JCM deserves recognition for the jobs created during the construction phase of this project, which proves that our policy of creating a conducive environment for private sector investment as a catalyst for job and wealth creation is the right one.”

His Excellency concluded his address, stating: “With these few remarks, I once again congratulate JCM and partners for reaching today’s milestone, allowing me to now have the distinguished honour of declaring this solar plant at Golomoti officially launched.”

Golomoti Solar’s state-of-the-art lithium-ion BESS will help support existing hydro generation plants and reduce Malawi’s reliance on diesel generation by enabling the solar plant to provide reliable power during the day. The BESS will ensure that grid stability is maintained, a key consideration when adding new intermittent renewable energy capacity. It will also enable the technical training and development of young engineers in Malawi and neighbouring countries around battery energy storage technologies. It is anticipated that performance data from the BESS will inform similar systems elsewhere in the region.

The Golomoti BESS was made possible by support from Business Energy and Industrial Strategies International Climate Finance through Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst and RINA.

Attending the event, InfraCo Africa’s Chief Operating Officer, Elizabeth Hipwell said, “We are delighted to be here with His Excellency today as he inaugurates the Golomoti Solar plant. As with its sister plant, Salima Solar, Golomoti is a testament to the commitment of his government, Ministries and ESCOM to delivering new clean energy for Malawi’s consumers.”

“Golomoti’s delivery during a global pandemic demonstrates the determination of our own team and that of our colleagues at JCM Power to keep workers safe from the virus itself, and to overcome supply chain challenges and delays.” She concluded, “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Innovate UK for their support for the battery energy storage system, a key element of the plant’s design and one which will ensure that reliable power is available for Malawi’s homes and businesses for many years to come.”

JCM Power’s Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer, Justin Woodward, said, “We are thrilled to be holding the inauguration of the Golomoti project, just six months after inaugurating Golomoti’s sister facility in Salima. It is a testament to the team and the government of Malawi for its commitment to the implementation of renewable energy to deliver two ground-breaking power plants within such a short period of time of each other. The Golomoti project is a pioneering project and is a showcase for the county and the region.”

Together, the Golomoti and Salima Solar projects have added 80MWac of renewable energy capacity to support Malawi’s clean energy transition and underpin the country’s future economic development. Both JCM Power and InfraCo Africa were keen to stress their ongoing commitment to the people of Malawi as Golomoti moves into its operations phase

Author: Nasi Hako

Nasi is the Editorial Assistant at ESI Africa. She has a deep passion for storytelling and content creation, and hopes to channel her quirks and insatiable curiosity into stories that matter.

This article was originally published on ESI Africa and is republished with permission with minor editorial changes.

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