A consortium led by Norwegian green energy developer and operator Scatec has signed a commercial agreement to finance, construct, operate and maintain a greenfield hydroelectric power plant with peak capacity of 350 MW in the southern African country of Malawi.

The consortium, which includes the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp. (IFC) and France-based global energy utility EDF Group, was picked as preferred bidder to co-develop the project with the government of Malawi.

Under the public-private partnership, Scatec and its venture partners British International Investment, Norfund and EDF will hold a 55% stake in the project. The Malawi government and IFC will own 30% and 15% of the equity, respectively. 

The construction schedule has not yet been set.

When work begins, the planned $1-billion Mpatamanga power plant will be built on the Shire River in southern Malawi, approximately 40 km (25 miles) west of the city of Blantyre, between the existing Tedzani and Kapichira hydropower plants.

The World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) is providing $350 million of the total project costs. The bank says the consortium “will use IDA credits and guarantees, alongside IFC support, to raise [funds from]  commercial financing institutions.”

The Scatec-led consortium will build a cascade system of two dams. The main dam is designed to be a 45-meter-high concrete-face rockfill dam with an adjacent gated spillway at the right abutment. The structures will create a 22-km-long reservoir with a capacity of 216 million cu meters, according to the World Bank.

The dam's powerhouse will  generate electricity during peak demand hours and ensure an overall stable power supply.

Six km (3.7 miles) from the main dam, the second dam will “buffer the fluctuation impacts caused by peak generation of the main dam,” according to the World Bank. 

The power plant will be connected by a 400-kV double-circuit transmission line to the existing Phombeya Substation, located 64km (40 miles) away, while a second 6-km (3.7-mile), 132 kV double circuit transmission line will connect the main dam to the regulating dam.

The project is expected to offset 520,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

When completed, the Mpatamanga power plant will nearly double Malawi’s installed capacity of hydropower.