Key agreements for the construction of Africa's first utility-scale floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system in Seychelles are expected to be signed at the end of the first quarter of this year, said the Energy Commission.
The Seychelles Energy Commission said in a press communique Thursday that it has issued a notice of intended award to Quadran Seychelles Ltd, the locally set up branch of Quadran -- an international renewable energy company operating in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Once the power purchase and government support agreements are signed, construction will start for the approximately four-megawatt power plant in the Providence lagoon on Mahe, the main island. The plant is expected to provide affordable and clean power to the national grid.
Bidders submitted financial proposals with a bid for the tariff in US dollars per kilowatt hours at which they would supply electricity to the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) through a 25-year power purchase agreement.
Quadran was the best-evaluated bidder for the project at $9.5 cents per kilowatt-hours which represents a significant financial saving compared to the current cost of producing electricity in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
In a previous interview with SNA, the chief executive of the Commission, Tony Imaduwa had said that the project is "expected to contribute around 5.8-gigawatt hours annually. This new initiative will also contribute to a reduction in fossil fuel importation which translates to savings in foreign exchange for the country."
The energy from the new project is expected to equate to 1.6 percent of the Seychelles' energy target set for 2030.
According to the communique, Imaduwa said that "marine floating PV holds immense potential for islands and other land-scarce countries, which may have excellent solar potential but lack available land for traditional ground-mounted solar PV."
Floating solar PV has been deployed at scale in markets including Asia and Europe, but these installations have been in freshwater sites such as lakes and reservoirs. No floating solar PV has yet to be implemented in a seawater environment at utility-scale.
Seychelles' innovative project represents an important step forward for the technology, as the power plant will be located in a saltwater environment and be designed to cope with challenges such as salinity, tidal fluctuations, and water currents.
"We are pleased to lead such innovative project and are confident that it is the first of many to come," said Imaduwa.
The project is supported by the African Legal Support Facility and the Clinton Foundation, with Trinity International LLP and Multiconsult Norge AS serving as the transaction and tender advisers.