Lekela considers Morocco, Tunisia and Kenya renewable power expansion

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Tuesday, 29 November 2022 09:34

Wind power farm. Photo supplied by Lekela Power.

African renewable energy producer Lekela Power aims to triple in size once its takeover by Infinity Group and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is completed, Lekela CEO Chris Antonopoulos tells The Africa Report.

The company aims to triple its generating capacity in the next three to four years, Antonopoulos says.

South Africa and Egypt will remain the company’s major markets and will each account for about a third of the company’s business. New countries will make up the remaining third, with Morocco, Tunisia and Kenya among markets under consideration.

Lekela has installed capacity of 1 gigawatt, which leaves it behind Scatec on 3.5 gigawatts of African solar and wind projects. Antonopoulos says even though most of its energy still comes from fossil fuels, Africa has unrivalled resources to generate renewable power, so there is no need for the company to think about projects outside the continent. Renewables, he says, are still cheaper than fossil fuels, despite the fact that logistics costs have increased.

  • Increasing the share of power from renewables is “not just a wish for African governments, but a need. A golden age for renewables in Africa is now coming”.

In July, Egypt’s Infinity and Nigeria-based AFC agreed to buy Amsterdam-based Lekela for an undisclosed amount from Actis and Mainstream Renewable Power. Dow Jones has reported that the deal under which existing management stays in place, values Lekela at $1.5bn. Completion, which Antonopoulos expects in December or January, is pending final approval by governments and project lenders.

  • Lekela is working on a new 250MW wind power farm in Egypt, which will be the company’s largest single project, Antonopoulos says. He expects financial closure during 2023 or in early 2024. The project, near the Red Sea, will take 24 months to build.
  • Next year will also see financial close for a battery storage project in Senegal, which will start operating in 2024. The project will be close to the Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye wind farm, which has a capacity of 159 MW.
  • The company’s current portfolio comprises seven wind farms, five of which are in South Africa, one in Egypt and one in Senegal. There’s also a wind farm under development in Ghana, which has been planned to start with a capacity of 150 MW, with potential to add 75 MW.

Wind cost advantage

African renewable energy providers are trying to scale up as environmental concerns and higher fossil fuels prices increase demand for new solutions. However, investment has declined, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF), which calculates that only $2.6bn of capital was provided for African renewable projects in 2021. That’s the lowest for 11 years and just 0.6% of the global total, BNEF says.

In October, Antonopoulos was among signatories of an open letter to G20 heads of state arguing that more needs to be done to promote renewable energy. The current energy security crisis should not be used as a reason for long-term lock-in of fossil fuel generation, it says.

  • Global average costs for new onshore wind projects are around 40% less than new coal or gas-fired power projects.
  • However, at the current rate of growth, less than two thirds of the global wind capacity needed by 2030 for a net zero pathway will be achieved, the letter says.

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