DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania– Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency provided a grant to Rex Energy, one of Tanzania’s largest renewable energy solutions providers, for a minigrid project in the Lake Victoria Islands, where only one percent of the population has access to electricity. The grant supports the development of a full-scale business model and financing plan necessary to implement a hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) minigrid with a cumulative capacity of 2 megawatts.
“In support of the goals of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, which seeks to increase energy access and promote private sector investment in sub-Saharan Africa, USTDA is pleased to formalize our partnership with Rex Energy,” said USTDA Director Leocadia I. Zak, who signed the grant agreement along with Rex Energy Managing Director, Mr. Francis Kibhisa. “This project is a great example of USTDA’s work to link U.S. industry expertise with the advancement of clean energy in Tanzania.”
“With this grant and technical support from MRIGlobal, Rex Energy once again assumes the leadership to complement government efforts to transform rural Tanzania through solar powered electrification,” said Mr. Kibhisa. “The minigrid system is certainly the future of rural electrification in Tanzania, and this grant from USTDA has added the required impetus, at the right time, to achieve that future: the pre-paid solar solution to the marginalized rural majority.”
Rex Energy has selected MRIGlobal (Kansas City, Mo.) to carry out the feasibility study and pilot project. The project will also include participation from additional U.S. companies, including Homer Energy (Boulder, Colo.), Enphase Energy (Petaluma, Calif.) and SunEdison (Belmont, Calif.), a major U.S. solar PV producer and official Power Africa private sector partner. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will also provide expertise on renewable energy resource assessments, as well as analysis and optimization of the minigrid design.
“We are excited to join Rex Energy on this opportunity to provide electrical access to rural populations in Africa,” said Thomas M. Sack, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of MRIGlobal. “MRIGlobal has installed and operated minigrids around the world for more than 10 years. This new program fills a critical need for rural electrification in Tanzania and will ultimately improve lives and help grow the local economy.”
“We are very happy to participate in this minigrid project. Solar hybrid minigrids are the most cost-effective way to bring clean, reliable and affordable electricity to rural communities in Africa,” Cathy Zoi, CEO of SunEdison’s Rural Electric Utility Company commented. “Most importantly, electricity will help them transform their lives and accelerate their socio-economic development.”
This effort supports Power Africa by helping to increase access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa. Implementation of the project would help to electrify an estimated 5,900 households and businesses, delivering power to more than 37,000 Tanzanians in the Lake Victoria region.