Former EDF Solar Heads Join Dubai Partner in Africa Power

The former heads of Electricite de France SA’s renewable energy unit and a Dubai-based power plant builder plan to develop more than $500 million of renewable electricity assets in Africa.

Access Infra Africa is being created by Paris-based Eren Developpement, founded by Paris Mouratoglou and David Corchia, and Access Power MEA, the companies said in a statement today. The projects will be focused on wind and solar power, Corchia said in a phone interview today.

“The good news about sun and wind is that it’s local,” Corchia said. “Over the last 15 to 20 years, the price of solar has come down eight times. What it means is that energy that would have been really too expensive for Africa is now affordable.”

Eren and Access will put in about $150 million of equity and as much as $50 million for development costs in the projects, with the rest of the $500 million financed through debt, Reda El Chaar, Access chairman, said by phone yesterday. “Usually utilities, developers spend around 7 to 10 percent of the project cost at early stage development,” he said.

The projects in Africa will have capacity of about 350 megawatts built over the next three to five years, El Chaar said. About 1,000 megawatts is enough to power 2 million European homes. The projects will be predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt and elsewhere in North Africa, he said.

Eren Projects

Eren in its first two years has invested more than 200 million euros ($235 million) in wind and solar projects to produce 400 megawatts of power in India, Greece, Israel, France and Italy, Corchia said. It also has 1,000 megawatts being developed in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Brazil, he said.

African nations are looking to renewable power to help replace fossil fuel and hydroelectric plants. South Africa holds over half the power generation capacity in Africa, according to Climatescope. Countries such as Kenya and Uganda have policies aimed at attracting renewable energy investment to boost generation, according to Climatescope.

“Today in Africa there is a massive, urgent need for electrification,” El Chaar said. “What has changed now is that this need has been coupled with a very rapid evolution of the power market in Africa that today allows the private sector to profitably own and operate generation assets in that continent.”

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