The Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has said the K3.2 billion solar power plants in Likoma and Chizumulu islands launched in November 2020 are helping the company to save K26.5 million each month, translating K318 million each year.
Egenco is using a solar and diesel hybrid system of generating power, with the solar unit producing 1.3 megawatts (MW) while the rest is generated by the diesel system to produce a combined 2.4MW for the two islands.
Egenco acting chief executive officer Maxon Chitawo told The Nation that for decades, the main source of electricity for the islands has been diesel generators that were commissioned in 2002 by the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep).
He said: “For 19 years since commissioning, the generators were supplying power for 16 hours only. The plant was very old with frequent breakdowns.
“With the solar plant, we have reduced fuel usage from 28 000 litres to just 13 000 litres per month for both Chizumulu and Likoma. Hence, we are saving K26 million at Likoma alone.”
Chitawo said currently, they have 1 620 customers connected to the network, including hotels, churches, schools, businesses and homes.
In a separate interview, Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said electricity demand at the island is 400 kilowatts, which means they are producing more than double the need for the Island.
He said: “The plan is to increase generation capacity as demand grows, but for now, these people will not meet the current capacity in the next 10 years.”
Government is in a race against time to increase electricity generation to about 1 000 megawatts by 2025.
Currently, only about 14 percent of the country’s population has access to electricity, according to the National Statistical Office.
World Bank data shows that 17.7 million people lack access to electricity in the country.