Photo: Stanislas Merlet

Assessing solar power in Ethiopia

Multiconsult will be assessing the environmental and social impacts of a planned solar power plant in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s state-owned electric power company is planning to build a 100 MW solar power PV plant near the town of Metahara, 200 km east of the capital Addis Ababa. The project is part of Power Africa, a US-led initiative to promote renewable energy in Africa.

Important milestone

Multiconsult recently won an international competitive tender to carry out an environmental and social impact assessment for the Metahara power station. The contract was signed on 2 December and work is due to start in January 2017. The project is being led by Multiconsult’s natural resources section, working with our solar power specialists.

We have studied environmental and social issues relating to large solar parks in Africa in the past, but this will be our first impact assessment. As such, the project marks an important milestone for Multiconsult, explains Gro Dyrnes, head of the natural resources section.

Solar energy is playing an increasingly important role in energy security and economic development of Africa. Average costs fell by over 60 percent between 2009 and 2015. Solar parks have the additional advantage that they can be built much faster than most other energy sources.

Setting the parameters for the project

Multiconsult’s impact assessment is part of a package that will be handed over to private investors interested in developing and operating the Metahara power plant. The impact assessment has been commissioned by Tetra Tech, who are also assisting the Ethiopian government in arranging financing and securing private investment for the project.

The project will require around 250 hectares of land and a short power line to the existing grid. Multiconsult’s tasks include assessing land use, natural habitats, landscapes and cultural heritage within the area being developed, as well as proposing environmentally sustainable solutions.

Multiconsult is also currently working on solar energy projects in Uganda and Botswana.

Contact people:

Gro Dyrnes, Section Head, Natural Resources, Multiconsult (tel. 971 25 640)

Bjørn Thorud, Solar Energy Specialist, Multiconsult (tel. 481 81 266)