Senegal has inaugurated the first large-scale wind farm in West Africa, a facility that will supply nearly a sixth of the country’s power when it reaches full capacity later this year.
According to Nellie Peyton from the Thompson Reuters Foundation, Senegal will get 30% of its energy from renewable sources, which has been a goal of President Macky Sall.
Senegal to leverage $180 million credit facility for sustainable energy
ENGIE achieves milestone of 4 million off-grid connections in Africa
GE, China, persisting in ill-advised African coal power proposals – IEEFA
“The energy mix we have today allows us to move past our dependence on petrol,” said Papa Mademba Biteye, director-general of Senelec, the national electricity company, at an inauguration ceremony in the rural community of Taiba N’Diaye.
The 158MW wind farm was built by British renewable power company Lekela, which also has wind farms in South Africa and Egypt and an upcoming one in Ghana.
Wind farms remain scarce throughout sub-Saharan Africa compared with solar plants, partly because they can cost more and take longer to build and because strong wind is generally less plentiful than sunshine, said Silvia Macri, an energy analyst at IHS Markit.
Get the latest African energy news that matters on our sister-site
“Senegal pushed ahead its renewables agenda quite aggressively,” said Macri.
Senegal’s first solar plant came online three years ago, and the country has since built several more. Other countries in the region are following suit with solar but are much further behind in terms of wind, Macri said.
In Taiba N’Diaye, 46 giant wind turbines rise over scrubland about 90 km (56 miles) from the seaside capital. One-third are operating, and the rest are due to come online by June.
Outside the cities, much of Senegal is still not electrified. Electricity reached only about 60% of the 16 million population in 2017, according to the World Bank.
The wind farm will provide enough electricity for 2 million people and prevent the emission of 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, according to Senelec.
“The next challenge is universal access,” said Biteye.
African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa will feature innovative companies accelerating decarbonisation at the African continent’s largest gathering of companies driving and leading the energy transition. Are you going to be there? Click here to join us in Cape Town.