Investigating the effect of de-risking strategies on implementation timelines for utility scale solar photovotaic projects in Zambia: a case study of Ngonye scaling solar project.

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Chama, Chilomo
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The University of Zambia
Utility scale Solar PV power generation is for the first time being added onto the Zambian national electricity grid to increase capacity of electricity generation and to reduce over dependence on hydropower generation. The World Bank group recently funded a ‘Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Utility Scale Program’ in which, two utility scale solar PV power plants in Lusaka South Multi facility economic zone were installed namely West Lunga and Ngonye Solar Power Plants. A project finance model based on de risking strategies was employed to implement the Ngonye Scaling Solar project. However project implementation was delayed by 14 months as indicated in a 2018 case study on the implementation of scaling solar in Zambia. The main critical success factors that impacted project implementation included; Appropriate allocation of risks, Participation of experienced and solid private sector participants, Political support, Public and community support and a Transparent procurement process. It was perceived however that the strategy to appropriately de risk the project beforehand would improve project implementation deliverables. Therefore, the study aimed at establishing the effects of the employed de risking strategy on project implementation timelines. The study adopted an explanatory (case study) research design and used a mix of both qualitative and quantitative techniques to collect and analyse primary data. The effect of the de risking instruments on the project were analysed by characterizing the risk profile in terms of risk awareness levels and then assessing the impact on project implementation timelines for each respective de risking strategy. Results show that among the notable risks that were identified and the de risking strategies that were employed thereof, Market risk, which had a risk awareness level of 50 percent and a de risking impact of 4.15 out of 5, significantly contributed to project implementation delay. This respective risk was mitigated by securing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Although the de risking impact was significantly high, findings suggests that securing the PPA was characterised with delayed negotiations arising from the aspect of risk allocation between the project company and the off taker. The study therefore, suggests that the envisioned project finance de risking approach whose objective was to improve project implementation time lines was compromised and as such project implementation was delayed beyond target.
Renewable energy sources , Photovoltaic power generation. , Electric power consumption--Forecasting.