In Solar Buzz

By for Bloomberg

Madagascar’s state power utility may become profitable by 2020 as the Indian Ocean island nation builds more solar plants to cut electricity-production costs, Energy Minister Lanto Rasoloelison said.

The government is overhauling the state-owned power company, known as Jirama, with World Bank help as it seeks to provide universal electricity access by 2030 in a country where less than one in seven people are connected to the grid. About half of Madagascar’s electricity comes from thermal sources, according to the World Bank.

The government is targeting reducing the cost of producing power to 580 ariary (14 cents), compared with the 850 ariary per kilowatt hour it costs to produce electricity from fuel oil and diesel, Rasoloelison told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Antananarivo. Subsidies enable the utility to sell power at 640 ariary per kilowatt hour, President Hery Rajaonarimampianina said last week.

Madagascar has large solar-energy potential, with almost all regions of the country receiving more than 2,800 hours of sunshine per year, according to the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme. The government’s New Energy Policy targets producing 85 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, according to the programme’s website.

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