Kahone and Toube solar PV, Senegal

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has reached financial close on the second project under its Scaling Solar programme in Sub-Saharan Africa – this time two projects of a combined 60MW in Senegal.

A French-led consortium comprising Engie and Meridiam and a Senegalese sovereign wealth fund were the sponsors of the two utility-scale solar PV projects – 35MW Kahone and 25MW Toube.

Tariffs for both sites of below $0.04 per kWh puts the projects at among the cheapest sources of energy in the West African region and the continent as a whole. The tender process attracted a number of tariff bids of under $0.06.

The government of Senegal cancelled a planned third project that was originally part of this tender process, though IFC will be hopeful it can roll out a second round of Scaling Solar in the country, as it has done in other countries.

Procurement 

The IFC’s Scaling Solar entails the deployment of utility-scale solar PV power plants backed by private sector investment and expertise in developing states – with IFC supporting local authorities in every step of the way from advisory, procurement, and financing. It began in July 2015 with two projects in Zambia and this year (2019) the ever-expanding programme arrived in Uzbekistan in Central Asia.

Senegal became the second country to sign up to Scaling Solar when its government signed an agreement with IFC to develop up to 200MW of solar PV. At that time the first Scaling Solar projects, two 50MW projects in Zambia (both later downsized to 28MW and 47.5MW), were in early stage development.

Senegal’s Electricity Sector Regulatory Commission (ESRC) led the tender for an initial 100MW with the IFC acting as its transaction adviser – both Linklaters and JLT were later mandated for legal and insurance roles.

A total of 28 firms responded to the RFQ for three projects under the 100MW tender, with 13 consortia prequalified before the end of 2016.

Alongside Kahone and Toube, the third project was to be the 30MW Niakhar solar PV but by the time of the RFP stage the government opted to scrap it, Engie confirmed to IJGlobal. 

The RFP was issued on 18 October 2017 with a bid deadline of 5 February 2018. Six consortia submitted a total of 12 bids to ESRC for the two projects.

Bids for Kahone - located 200km southeast of the capital city of Dakar - were as follows:

  • Engie, Meridiam – $0.038016/kWh 
  • Nareva Holding, Masdar – $0.038899/kWh
  • Access Infra Africa, Total Eren – $0.0439/kWh
  • Actis Energy 4, Mulilo Group – $0.045036/kWh
  • Scatec Solar – $0.045999/kWh
  • Acciona Energia – $0.057930/kWh

Bids for the Touba – located 190km east of Dakar – also kept to a tight spread between $0.06 and $0.03:

  • Engie, Meridiam – $0.039831/kWh
  • Nareva Holding, Masdar – $0.039899/kWh
  • Access Infra Africa, Total Eren – $0.0439/kWh
  • Scatec Solar – $0.046299/kWh
  • Actis Energy 4, Mulilo Group – $0.048888/kWh
  • Al Nowais Investments, Aldwych Power Holdings, Alten Energias Renovables – $0.051640/kWh

Having entered the lowest bids, the Engie and Meridiam team was confirmed as the preferred bidder for both projects on 9 April 2018.

Financing

Senegalese Sovereign Wealth Fund for Strategic Investments (FONSIS) has a stake in the project companies to ensure the government shares in equity returns.

Equity stakes in the two SPVs – Kahone Solaire SA and Kale Solaire SA – are as follows:

  • Engie – 40%
  • Meridiam – 40%
  • FONSIS – 20%

As part of the IFC's role in the Scaling Solar programme, the development bank led the financing for the two projects. A total of €38 million in 19-year debt was raised through the IFC and two other DFIs.

Separate financings were arranged for each project, though they feature the same lenders. 

The debt package for Kahone is as follows:

  • IFC - €7 million (A loan - €3.5 million, Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Programme - €3.5 million)
  • Proparco - €6.5 million
  • EIB - €6 million

Toube is 10MW smaller but was only marginally cheaper to finance due to its 3km distance from the national grid. It featured the same lenders:

  • IFC - €6 million (A loan - €3 million, Finland-IFC Blended Finance for Climate Programme - €3 million)
  • Proparco - €6.5 million
  • EIB - €6 million

Talks between the three lenders and the sponsors led to debt totals being approved on 15 May with financial close following on 18 July.

The sponsors signed on a 25-year take-or-pay PPAs with national energy utility Société Nationale d'Électricité du Sénégal (Senelec) on 14 November 2018. The agreed tariffs were as bid:

  • Kahone – €0.038/kWh
  • Toube – €0.0398/kWh

Engie subsidiaries Solairedirect and Engie Senegal were awarded the EPC and O&M contracts respectively, also on 25-year terms.

Finally, the sponsors applied for additional help from another World Bank Group member MIGA for political risk guarantees of up to €7.2 million for a 15-year period.

The construction of 35MW Kahone and 25MW Toube solar is expected to commence next month (September 2019) and to be completed by September 2020.

Advisers

Hogan Lovells was legal adviser to the sponsors of Kahone and Toube.

Advisers to the government of Senegal were:

IFC – lead transaction
Linklaters – legal
JLT – insurance
Advisers to the lenders were:

Herbert Smith Freehills – legal
Everoze – technical
Marsh – insurance
ERM – environmental & social

Scaling solar expands

The government of Senegal had signed up to a total of 200MW of new installed capacity under the Scaling Solar programme in 2016, but only 60MW has been procured so far. The remaining capacity may be tendered via a second round as has been seen in Zambia, the first nation to participate.

Zambia is moving on to its second round of Scaling Solar. The two first round projects in Zambia - 28MW Ngonye and 47.5MW Bandweulu - began commercial operations in 2019, having reached financial close in December 2017 and December 2018, respectively.

Scaling Solar also has a presence in three more African states:

  • Ethiopia – RFP responses for two 150MW projects are expected on 15 August (2019)
  • Madagascar – six prequalified consortia are awaiting the RFP for a 25MW tender
  • Togo – an MoU for 90MW of new capacity was signed with the government on 12 July (2019)

The programme has spread rapidly in Africa since 2015 and now it has emerged in Asia for the first time, with Uzbekistan the latest country to sign up.

In Uzbekistan the government sees the programme as a means to reducing the country's dependence on gas to generate power, as it seeks to develop 4GW of solar PV by 2031. The IFC issued RFP documents to 11 pre-qualified bidders for a 100MW solar PV site in the Navoi region of country in June, with a set deadline of 20 August.

Asset SnapshotKahone PV Solar Plant (35MW)

Est. Value:
EUR 26.00m (USD 28.96m)
Full Details

Asset SnapshotToube PV Solar Plant (25MW)

Value:
EUR 22.00m (USD 24.50m)
Full Details

Transaction SnapshotToube Solar PV Plant (25MW)

Financial Close:
18/07/2019
Value:
$24.83m USD
Equity:
$5.19m
Debt:
$19.64m
Debt/Equity Ratio:
79:21
Full Details

Transaction SnapshotKahone PV Solar Plant (35MW)

Financial Close:
18/07/2019
Value:
$29.19m USD
Equity:
$6.14m
Debt:
$23.06m
Debt/Equity Ratio:
79:21
Full Details