NOA and Winch Energy Limited deploy new solar solutions in Uganda and Sierra Leone

Winch Energy 5th oct RPU at manufacturing facility in SicilyNEoT Offgrid Africa (NOA) and Winch Energy Limited have invested US$12mn in mini-grid projects in Uganda and Sierra Leone, contributing to their global ambition to build the largest portfolio of mini-grids in Sub-Saharan Africa, and reach a portfolio worth US$100mn

Thanks to this project, 49 villages in Sierra Leone and Uganda will be equipped with off-grid and remotely controllable solar solutions – Remote Power Units (RPU) – that will supply power to nearly 60,000 people. The RPUs will be designed and manufactured by Winch Energy through its assembly facility in Sicily, Italy. In a second phase, 6,000 portable batteries will be deployed in these villages to serve people who live too far from the power unit. At the same time, partnerships with telecom operators will be established to guarantee Internet access for households.

Installation of the project has already started with the RPU’s for the first 13 villages shipped to Uganda. All 25 RPU’s are expected to arrive in Uganda before the end of 2021. An additional 12 village power plants are also already operational in Sierra Leone and providing customers with clean energy. The Uganda sites are expected to be operational in early 2022, while all 24 sites in Sierra Leone will be operational by Q2 2022.

Winch Energy IPP Holdings Limited (WIPP), where NOA is the main shareholder, is the new investment platform for those projects. FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, has arranged a syndicated facility where FMO (through the Access to Energy Fund) and the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) – managed by Camco Clean Energy (Camco) - will lend to WIPP a first tranche of c. US$4mn for the portfolio of mini grids in Uganda and Sierra Leone. A second tranche of up to US$6mn is also included in the facility to finance future projects since WIPP plans to expand its operations in Sierra Leone, Uganda and to other countries. 

Huub Cornelissen, energy director of FMO, said, “Supporting renewable energy programs is key to FMO’s strategy, as lack of access to energy is one of the biggest barriers to development. Mini-grids are seen as essential to increasing access to electricity and, as such, are becoming part of FMO’s core strategic focus. Closing this first mini-grid debt transaction represents a major milestone for FMO and an important contribution to further develop the sector. The partnership with Winch Energy and NOA proves that mini-grids can be financed at scale and efficiently by creating a cross-country portfolio of assets.” 

Nicholas Wrigley, CEO of Winch Energy, stated, “We are obviously delighted to close this debt financing from FMO and REPP Camco, which represents a landmark for the off-grid industry in Africa and Worldwide. This first tranche represents the beginning of our investment programme with our partner NOA and additional investments will soon follow in Sierra Leone and Uganda and we are also targeting Nigeria and Ethiopia for 2022. The teams at Winch Energy and NOA have worked extraordinarily hard to bring about this innovative debt financing and for that I wish to thank them.” 


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