West African solar on the rise, with $29 million push from European Investment Bank
- 06 October 2014
NEW DELHI: In an effort to boost solar in sub-Saharan Africa, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced it will funnel EUR 23 million (US$29 million) into one of the largest solar plants that is currently planned for the region.
The 30 MW, EUR 70.5 million (US$90.17 million) photovoltaic power station will be constructed on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and operated by national electricity utility, Sonabel. Apart from the EIB, the French Development Agency and the European Union will also invest in the project.
Lucien Bembamba, Minister of Economy and Finance for the Republic of Burkina Faso signed the 20-year loan agreement for the solar project, in the presence of Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President, Jean-Christophe Ilboudo, Director General of Sonabel and Frederic Korsaga, Ambassador of Burkina Faso to Luxembourg.
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According to a press statement from EIB, Lucien Bembamba called SONABEL’s investment "an important milestone in the long-standing cooperation between Burkina Faso and Europe", and highlighted EIB’s significant role in improving new water and energy infrastructure that has created jobs across the country.
Pim van Ballekom stressed EIB’s commitment to support energy investment across Africa, and maintained the new solar facility will serve as a benchmark for renewable energy in the West African region.
Burkina Faso’s annual power demand has increased by 10% in recent years, and more than 75% of the country’s total inhabitants have no access to electricity.
By significantly increasing the power generation capacity in Burkina Faso, the new solar plant is expected to get the area's economy back on its feet, as well as reduce dependence on energy imports from the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
EIB has also taken fiscal measures to rehabilitate solar power plants in Liberia, South Africa, and Lake Turkana in Kenya, which is the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa.
Other major proposed and developing solar power projects in West Africa include:
- Nzema Solar PV Park: Located in Awaso, Ghana, and developed by Blue Energy, Nzema Solar PV Park is a 155 MW photovoltaic project and is touted to become one of the biggest solar plants in the world, once fully developed. Ghana’s current generating capacity is 6% and the plant aims to generate 10% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
- Tenergie Senegal PV Projects: Installed at three different locations in Senegal-Taif, Darou Mousty and Merina Dakhar, and with a combined PV capacity of 50 MW, the project is operated by the renewable energy company Ternegie. Through its subsidiary Ternegie Senegal, the company is playing a key role in Senegal’s solar expansion and in reducing its dependence on oil and gas.
- Akuo Energy Mali Solar Projects: This 41 MW PV generation facility in Mali was undertaken by French renewable energy developer Axuo energy in collaboration with R20, a US-based international environmental body. The project comprises of two plants located in Kita and Kangaba in West Mali.
- Cameroon '51 villages' Project: Funded by the World Bank and AfDB, this 21 MW solar project installed at the Konye sub-division of South West Cameroon is headed up by several enterprises working to cater to the power demands of 51 villages, inhabited mainly by cocoa farmers. It brings 26 x 1MW of rural electrification, 196 solar dryers and other small home systems.
- Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant: Developed by UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar, Mauretania’s first PV power plant with a capacity of 15 MW, was built in the national capital, Nouakchott, and is believed to provide 10% of the country’s total energy capacity.
The investment annoucement came the same week data was released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, showing that in countries around the world, investments in clean energy are recovering after two years of decline.
According to Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the recovery is largely due to solar competitiveness. The chairman had first suggested clean energy investment is 'turning around' at an event during Climate Week NYC the previous week.
Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, which is the convenor of Climate Week NYC, said at the summit Opening Day: “The clean energy and technology sectors are driving growth and job creation at a far more rapid rate than the rest of the economy. This is where our best hope for recovery and continued prosperity now lies. The major acceleration in investment here shows this is where smart business is heading.”
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By Shuvait Koul