As mentioned in the RNS dated 24 March, we continue to work with all our stakeholders, albeit remotely, during this unprecedented time to advance our portfolio of assets. However, the global fight against COVID-19 is undoubtably creating a changing landscape and the lasting implications of this are as yet unknown.
Certainly, the need to achieve universal electricity access has not changed and is essential; it is arguably more critical now than ever before as a result of the pandemic we are all currently facing. I believe that this places Kibo in a strong position when the world finds a new normal in which to operate.
I have provided a brief summary of our projects below; much of this is already in the public domain, however, I am keen for shareholders to understand the potential of these projects, which the Kibo team is working hard to realise.
While our focus remains on addressing the acute power deficits in Sub-Saharan Africa and, more recently, the UK, our strategy has slightly altered to focus on including sustainable power options into our solutions. This has seen us build a strong partnership with US based ESS Tech Inc. (‘ESS’). We are making steady progress integrating ESS’s iron flow battery technology that offers, amongst other benefits, more than double the operating lifetime and cycle capacity of lithium-ion battery storage systems, into the plans for our coal fired power plants. We look forward to providing further updates on this innovative technology in due course.
In Mozambique, our Benga Power Plant Project (‘BPPP’), in which we have a 65% interest and which enjoys very strong local support and is backed by local energy company Termoeléctrica de Benga S.A, continues to make progress. With a Definitive Feasibility Study based on a 150 MW coal-fired power plant already in place, this advanced project is reaching an exciting stage. Not only does it have significant expansion potential, including the establishment of a pure renewable energy project, but the off-take opportunities are escalating; notably, we continue to have encouraging discussions with Electricidade de Moçambique (‘EDM’) regarding a Power Purchase Agreement.
Similarly, in Botswana, where we are developing the Mabesekwa Coal Independent Power Project (‘MCIPP’) with major energy industry player, Shumba Energy Ltd (‘Shumba’), a strategic opportunity to develop a multi-project and accordingly multi-revenue stream programme, has been identified. This will comprise developing an established 761Mt coal deposit into a coal mine that will feed two power stations. The first of these being a 300 MW power station envisaged to provide power to Shumba’s petrochemical plant, which will first provide Botswana with up to 80% of its domestic liquid / gas fuel requirements, and later the Southern African market at large – Kibo has a 35% interest in this and the petrochemical plant is supported by two major Chinese conglomerates. The second is a 250-300 MW power station, planned to feed into the Botswana power grid – Kibo has an 85% interest in this.
Completing our African portfolio of interests is the 100% owned Mbeya Coal to Power Project (‘MCPP’) in Tanzania. This project, fully developed to funding / construction ready status, with seven Mining Licences and water permits in place, comprises a 120 Mt coal deposit and a 300-600 MW power plant. It too is making headway and remains an exciting opportunity as highlighted by the confirmation from TANESCO that Kibo has the option to develop the project for the severely undersupplied power export market. Alongside this, we are exploring opportunities within the domestic market.
Beyond Africa, although presenting in a different shape and form, the energy crisis is just as critical. Three years ago, engineers forecasted an unprecedented “energy gap” in the UK in a decade’s time, with demand for electricity likely to outstrip supply by more than 40%, which could lead to blackouts (recently the UK experienced four major blackouts). Complementing its growth strategy, Kibo identified this as a strategic development opportunity and intends to support the UK energy mix with much needed flexible energy projects by developing a portfolio of small-scale power generation assets to support the UK power grid via its 60% interest in MAST Energy Developments (‘MED’) projects. To this end, one site, the shovel-ready 5 MW gas-fuelled Bordersley power generation plant has been acquired and due diligence on several others are nearing conclusion.
The development of Bordersley had been progressing rapidly and ahead of schedule. However, as has been explained in recent communications, COVID-19 has caused unavoidable delays to the planned construction and commissioning of the plant, which was due to take place by the end of Q1 2020. We are doing all we can to continue to progress this and counter any further delays. AB Group, the Italian power giant which will supply, construct and commission the Bordersley plant, continues to progress the project remotely. Furthermore, we have utilised this temporary on-site cessation of activity as an opportunity to consolidate our ownership of Bordersley to 100%, (see RNS dated 30 March 2020) allowing us to progress uninterrupted with comprehensive ongoing funding discussions for MED and Bordersley (see RNS dated 17 March 2020). We remain firmly focussed on progressing this project, which offers significant near-term revenues thanks to the power purchase agreement we have in place with Statkraft and will of course continue to provide further updates as soon as we are in a position to do so.
I understand the lack of revised timings regarding project timelines is frustrating; COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges for us all, but I would like to assure shareholders that we continue to progress all projects within the current constraints.
Ultimately, we remain focused on delivering on our objective of building a leading-edge multi-asset energy company and I believe we have the requisite quality assets, skill set, team and partners and crucially development plan to do this. Yes, the current global backdrop has created unforeseen challenges; for starters, the various governments with whom we are in discussions with are currently focused on the welfare of citizens rather than power projects. However, having reacted quickly to minimise this disruption, we continue to make tangible progress across our portfolio. With an undeniable market demand for reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity, I believe our growth prospects are strong.
I am hopeful that the coming few weeks will provide further visibility regarding the impact of the pandemic but in the meantime, I wish you all a healthy and happy Easter.
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