Japan hands over M29m solar plant
THE Japanese government on Thursday handed over a solar power-generation project worth M29.7 million to the Lesotho government.
Construction of the 280 kilowatts (KW) facility, which is located at Moshoeshoe I International Airport (MIIA), began in 2013.
The plant consists of 1 200 solar panels, a powerhouse and display panel indicating the daily performance of the massive project.
The power-station has been supplying electricity to MIIA during the day for the past two-and-a-half years.
Thursday’s handover ceremony was attended by Japanese Deputy Ambassador in Pretoria Shuichiro Kawaguchi, Public Works and Transport Deputy Principal Secretary ‘Mathoriso Monaheng and Ministry of Energy Principal Secretary Emmanuel Lesoma, among other dignitaries.
Addressing the gathering, Ms Monaheng said the solar power generation project was constructed by Japanese company AICHI Electrics and local firm Power Consult.
She further said a team of experts from Japan provided on-the-job training to technical staff from the Department of Energy and MIIA.
“Intensive training has been provided on basic knowledge of solar cells, PV (photovoltaic) generating system, data logging system and data management analysis to engineers from the Department of Energy, Lesotho Electricity Company and Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority,” said Ms Monaheng.
“Students from the National University of Lesotho have been attached to monitor how the system works and dissertation reports were compiled as part of their award for Bachelor of Science degrees.”
She further said the power station was producing enough energy for the airport’s terminal building during the day, with the excess fed into the national grid.
The solar energy project, said Ms Monaheng, was the biggest to be developed in the country.
“This is indeed the first facility of this magnitude in Lesotho. It has demonstrated that electricity can be generated from solar and, most importantly, be fed into the national grid without causing any problems to the network.”
She said the project’s success had affirmed the government’s confidence in introducing a clean energy generation system.
“This has generated enough confidence and the government is now embarking on the much bigger facility of 20 megawatts, which is about 71 times the size of this one,” Ms Monaheng said.
The solar power drive is in line with the government’s Energy Policy launched last year, which includes renewable energy programmes.
Generating electricity with solar power instead of fossil fuels can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases, which are produced when fossil fuels are burned, lead to rising global temperatures and climate change.