Abu Dhabi’s state-owned renewables developer Masdar is planning to add 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy to hydro-reliant Zambia, part of multiple commitments made by the energy firm in recent months.
Zambian state-owned power company Zesco announced it had reached a memorandum of understanding with Masdar for the project in a 18 January statement, which will begin with an initial installation of 500 megawatts of solar capacity.
Diversifying away from hydro energy is a “matter of urgency” for Zambia, according to Zesco, which said hydropower routinely fails during demand surges, attributing this to a slowdown in rainfall. About 85% of Zambia’s installed electricity generation capacity is hydro-based, according to the US Agency for International Development.
Zesco also emphasised that the improvement in power security would encourage FDI. The landlocked East African country has been on a mission to woo foreign investors in the wake of a $1.3bn IMF rescue package agreed last year.
In 2022, Masdar was among the most active global renewables investors across the Middle East and Africa region, announcing projects in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania, according to fDi Markets. It also announced a number of projects in Central Asia in countries including Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The company has an ambitious target of reaching at least 100GW of renewable energy capacity globally by 2030.
Indonesia close to nickel deal with BASF and Eramet
German chemicals giant BASF and French mining company Eramet are close to finalising a partnership to invest $2.6bn in Indonesia to build a nickel processing facility in the south-east Asian country’s Weda Bay.
According to an 18 January Reuters report, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller confirmed to Indonesian officials that his firm’s agreement with Eramet is “at the final stage”, and due to close in the first half of 2023.
Processed nickel is in high demand for electric vehicles, and the new facility – which will produce mixed hydroxide precipitate, used in EV batteries – falls in line with the government’s strategy.
Indonesia’s investment minister Bahlil Lahadalia recently told fDi that the country aims to “better contribute to diversifying and distributing the global EV battery ecosystem”. The south-east Asian country has received commitments from battery companies and automakers like LG Energy Solutions, Volkswagen and CATL.
Foreign investors have set out plans in Indonesia in the wake of the country banning exports of unprocessed nickel ore, which has received criticism from the World Trade Organization for falling foul of international trade rules.
Bosch expands presence in Suzhou, China
German engineering and technology multinational Bosch will invest $1bn in a new research and development (R&D) and manufacturing base in the Suzhou Industrial Park, in the Chinese province of Jiangsu.
The 300,000-square-metre centre, the first phase of which will be ready in mid-2024, will develop and assemble components for electro-mobility and automated driving, Bosch said in a statement on January 12.
“China is the world’s largest auto market, full of promise and vitality,” said Stefan Hartung, chairman of Robert Bosch’s board. “As a multinational enterprise, we need to make full use of the country’s local R&D capability and production capacity.”
China has taken a strong lead over other countries in the electric vehicle supply chain, and by 2031 is set to have twice the production capacity for lithium-ion batteries than the rest of the world combined.
Bosch has been in Suzhou since 1999, but has continued to expand its investment in the city, adding to its well established automotive cluster. The president of Bosch China, Yudong Chen, said the company “remains committed to its ‘local for local’ development strategy”, in a signal to the regionalisation of the global automotive industry.