26 of July 2016

Promoting renewable energy in small hydropower plants in Sao Tome and Principe

Electricity is undoubtedly a crucial driver for economic and social development and for the sustainable growth that Sao Tome and Principe craves.


The energy sector is one of the key sectors of the National Strategy for poverty reduction. Hence, the Government has embarked on efforts to increase the production capacity as well as the extension of power transmission and distribution into remote areas in order to remove existing constraints.


Despite the power deficit to support several development initiatives, the need to change and use locally available resources for electricity production, such as the case of small hydropower plants, has recently become the cornerstone of Sao Tome and Principe’s internal policy.


The main goal is to achieve a scenario that provides improvements of living conditions in society and allows sustainable development based on three pillars: social, environmental and economic.


The opening up of electricity production to private sector investment, with a focus on renewable energy sources, is a huge step forward, aiming the implementation of strategies and actions towards Sao Tome and Principe’s development.


The “Promotion of environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient grid-based hydropower through an integrated approach in Sao Tome and Principe" project, launched on March of the current year with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), besides supporting the country in becoming self-sufficient in terms of energy consumption, preferably clean energy, will also contribute to human and economic development.


The project offers clear advantages, since more renewable energy helps to reduce fossil fuel consumption, with all related benefits, with a particular focus on the reduction of financial burden for the Government and the transformation of the energy sector in an economically viable and environmentally-friendly sector.


During the five-year project, the small hydropower plants are expected to generate 365,000 MWh of electricity and avoid the emission of 874,200 tons of CO2, including the emissions related to sustainable land and forest management.


On the first year of implementation of this project, the actions to be taken aim to support the Government to overcome the existing barriers to the development of off-grid and grid-connected small hydropower plants.


These institutional actions are related to:

  • Establishment of an appropriate and operational legal and regulatory framework for the energy sector, with a focus on renewable energies and forestry and watershed management Master Plan;
  • Technical report on grid connection requirements for small hydropower projects and its regulation;
  • Creation of a one-stop shop for issuance of construction licenses and permits to private small hydro developers;
  • Development of a methodology for a joint environmental (including climate resilience), economic and financial evaluation of on-grid hydro plants in line with government regulations and policies;
  • Establishment of procedures and standardized PPAs for the introduction of a transparent procurement process in the selection/award of hydro sites by private developers;
  • Standardization of economic and financial assessment methodology for the calculation of hydro tariffs to be paid to IPPs;
  • Capacity development within key national actors to appraise mini-hydro projects for PPAs and lending.


The Ministry of Infrastructures, Natural Resources and the Environment of Sao Tome and Principe, ALER’s Honorary Member, through the General Directorate of Natural Resources and Energy is committed to collaborate with UNDP to implement this program.


Furthermore, other actions with ALER support are currently underway to promote renewable energy in the country, including the drafting of the renewable energy status report to be finished by the end of this year and presented in early 2017.

Belizardo Neto 
Director General of Energy
General Directorate of Natural Resources and Energy -  
Ministry of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment of  São Tomé and Príncipe (MIRNA)