Angola Strengthens Diversification as Capital Flows Inwards

Angola. Renewable energy. Bigstock

Mapping studies conducted by Angola’s Ministry of Energy and Water in 2014 have revealed the potential for 55 GW of additional solar potential, 18 GW of hydroelectric power, and up to 3 GW of wind power; resources that will serve to assist the southern African country meet rural demand while diversifying its energy matrix.

With the country’s installed capacity currently standing at 5.6 GW, increasing power availability to a growing urban and peri-urban population is amongst the Angolan Government’s highest stated priorities. With an energy mix deriving primarily from renewables – currently consisting of 68% hydropower, 31.3% fossil fuels, and 0.7% hybrid – the Government has instituted an ambitious infrastructure plan to tap into the country’s vast solar and hydro potential. Several hydroelectric and solar power projects are due for development within the coming years and will require significant external financing and private project development.

Under construction in the Kwanza Norte Province, the 2,172 MW Cacula Cabaça hydropower project is due for commission by 2024. With a total estimated investment of $4.53 billion, the project will become the largest hydropower facility in Angola upon completion, surpassing the country’s 2,070 MW Laúca hydroelectric power station. Electricity generated from the Cacula Cabaça power station will be evacuated through a 400kV power transmission line and will generate up to 8,123 GWh of electricity per year. Construction of the power station is being undertaken by Chinese construction and engineering company, Gezhouba Group, in consortium with management firm, Boreal Investments and environmental management services company, Niara Company following the signing of an agreement with Angola’s Ministry of Energy and Water in June 2015.

Meanwhile, as part of the country’s 2025 Angola Energy Strategy, the Ministry has identified 100 suitable locations to produce up to 600 MW of renewable energy from mini hydro plants across the country’s vast network of rivers and tributaries. As part of this program, expansion is currently underway to improve the capacity of the Matala hydroelectric power station. Situated on the Kunene River in the Huíla Province, the expansion project will see the plant’s capacity increase from 27 MW to 40.8 MW.

Furthermore, as part of Angola’s energy strategy, the Government has sought to add 200 MW of solar energy generation capacity by 2025, with three solar projects having been approved and currently in development. Solenova, a joint venture between oil and gas supermajor Eni and Angola’s National Oil Company Sonangol, has begun the development of a 50 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Province of Namibe. The facility will be Angola’s first solar PV power plant, with energy poised for dispatch to Angola’s southern grid, thus contributing to the reduction of diesel and supporting the diversification of Angola’s energy matrix.

Backed by public private partnerships between renewable energy independent power producer Total Eren, Sonangol, and local renewable energy developer Greentech, the $82 million Quilemba Solar Power Park is expected to deliver 35 MW of renewable energy to the country’s Huíla Province upon completion, which is expected by the end of 2023. Upon finalization, the Quilemba Solar Power Park will assist Angola in achieving substantial savings in fuel oil used in thermal power plants while expanding the role of PV energy utilization in the country’s southern territories.

What’s more, having commenced operations in August 2022 and with a combined capacity of 285 MW, the 189 MW Biópio solar PV plant and 96 MW Baía Farta solar plant serve as the country’s largest solar energy project. Construction of the solar farms were led by Portuguese business group, MCA, and precede the construction of an additional seven solar power plants that are expected to become operational by 2023. The solar project will boast a total generating capacity of 370 MW and will provide clean, renewable energy to approximately 2.4 million Angolans in the provinces of Benguela, Huambo, Bié, Luanda Norte, Luanda Sul, and Moxico.

In addition to hydro and solar, pre-construction efforts are currently underway to develop a further 720 MW of gas-fired generation capacity through the development of the Soyo II Combined Cycle Power Plant, which is expected to enter commercial operation in 2024. Noted for its strategic role in the global energy transition, natural gas production will offer Angola an affordable and innovative energy source to bridge the gap between fossil fuels and renewables.

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Onur Yilmaz

Onur Yilmaz