OSLO (Reuters) - Sudan is in talks with Norway’s Scatec Solar to build its largest solar power farm, investment minister Mubarak Al-Fadil told Reuters, following the lifting of U.S. trade sanctions in October.
A Sudanese delegation led by Al-Fadil met with Scatec Solar executives last week during a business summit in Oslo, where the potential for a solar farm with a minimum 400 megawatt (MW) capacity was discussed, the minister said in an interview.
“We invited them to come to discuss a power-sharing agreement. We told them that we are not on for small projects. They said their initial start could be 400 MW,” Al-Fadil said.
Sudan’s power production capacity, which is just above 3,000 megawatts (MW), is insufficient to satisfy the country’s demand, reaching only about 40 percent of its population and the country wants to produce more, said Al-Fadil.
“Given the growth on demand, we need at least 5,000 new megawatts to build in the country. Renewable is preferable for us,” he said.
If realised, a 400 MW solar farm could cost about $450 million and Sudan is prepared to hand Scatec Solar the power purchase agreement, hoping to have the plant up and running within a year of striking a deal, he added.
Scatec Solar’s chief executive Raymond Carlsen declined to comment on the firm’s discussions with Sudan.
Last month, finance minister Othman Rukabi said Sudan’s economy was headed for a gradual recovery after the U.S. lifted its 20-year-old economic sanctions, opening the way for critical economic reforms and badly needed investment.
Sudan is one of Africa’s biggest but poorest countries, having been ravaged by a multi-year war that ended in the south’s secession in 2011, which stripped the north of three quarters of its oil resources.
The country’s only sizeable renewable source of energy is hydropower, representing more than half of Sudan’s power production, World Energy Council data shows.
Sudan is also looking to develop wind power, the minister said.
“We had Danish companies discussing wind before I came, I met them and they are coming with Sudanese investors. They have the idea to start with 280 MW with wind,” he said.
Gas-fueled power is an alternative, the minister added, as Sudan strives to secure more electricity for its agriculture and industry that aim to boost production and benefit from the, now sanctions-free, international trade.
“The other choice for us is gas. We need finance. The need is high, we need to move fast because this is affecting industry and agriculture. We need to bring new energy,” he said.
Editing by Alexander Smith
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