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Jacobsen Seeks Renewal of Thermal Power Generation Contract

Uganda is expected to have a power generation capacity of about 1,600 megawatts by the end of this year, against a demand of 950, leaving a surplus of more than 500 megawatts. There have therefore been calls on the government of Uganda abandon the thermal energy which is considered expensive and also environmentally not friendly
21 Sep 2020 19:35

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Energy company, Jacobsen Uganda Power Plant Company Ltd, applies to have its license renewed for the operation of the Namanve Thermal Power plant, amid protests questioning the need for its expensive power when the country is generating more electricity than the existing demand.

The license to run the plant that uses heavy fuel oil expired last month.

The 50 MW plant was handed over to Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), a government agency that oversees the generation of electricity in the country. 

Since 2014, Jacobsen’s concession is renewed annually as a generator for any possible emergency like a breakdown in the supply of hydro-dominated power, or in case there is need to increase supply.

Uganda operates two thermal plants, the other one being the Electromaxx Uganda, that runs a 20 mw plant in Tororo.

Of Uganda’s energy mix, thermal is the most expensive source of electricity, with the government spending 18 US cents or 665 shillings per unit, compared to 11 cents that power from Bujagali costs, which is also considered one of the highest rates on the continent.

There have been calls on the government of Uganda abandon the thermal energy which is considered expensive and not friendly to the environment.

Dickens Kamugisha, the Chief Executive of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), wonders why the government does not consider solar which is a cheaper source, but also adds that currently Uganda has enough power to warrant more generation:

//Cue in; One of the things…

Cue out….is also environmentally bad.”//

On the move by the regulator to call for submission of views by affected parties, Kamugisha doubts that they can yield anything since even the government has refused to reveal the contents of the contract it has with the companies.

//Cue in; We’ve been demanding…

Cue out... every  other day.”//  

The Electricity Regulatory Authority, says it has Jacobsen’s application for the license renewal and is calling on directly affected parties and public agencies or authorities to inspect the application and give views.

It says thermal energy is kept in the energy mix for purposes of security of supply and when for instance water levels fall, or when there is a failure in hydro and a blackout, thermal comes in as an emergency option.

On why they stick with the expensive thermal energy instead of the cheaper solar, ERA Director for Corporate Affairs, Julius Wandera says those proposing solar do not know how unreliable it can be.

//Cue in; They don’t know…

Cue out… especially Jacobsen.”// 

Uganda is expected to have a power generation capacity of about 1,600 megawatts by the end of this year, against a demand of 950, leaving a surplus of more than 500 megawatts.

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