In Pursuit of a Green Energy Economy: Guinea-Bissau Explores Renewable Solutions

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The west-African nation of Guinea-Bissau represents a particularly attractive market for energy explorers, owing to the largely unexplored on- and offshore basins. With no domestic hydrocarbon capacity and minimal renewable energy generation, the country is aggressively pursuing investment in the energy sector to address energy poverty across the nation. National development targets coupled with growing interest in the country’s resources are leading to an increase in investment, of which the most notable lies in the renewable energy sector.

Although geographically small, the nation’s significant renewable energy potential could help unlock west-Africa’s green economy. Specifically, Guinea-Bissau’s solar potential represents a lucrative industry that could not only meet domestic demand, but be used to tap into the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP). Therefore, the urgent need for alternative power generation solutions, coupled with the high number of people currently living without access to electricity, has motivated solar investment and development across the country.

By tapping into the country’s significant solar potential, stakeholders will initiate a number of socio-economic benefits. Firstly, solar could help alleviate energy poverty across the country. By focusing investment and development in solar, Guinea could boost electrification and enhance the living conditions of millions of people.

Secondly, solar could help diversify the economy, which is currently dominated by the agriculture sector – representing 85% of export earnings. Guinea-Bissau is strategically located within the WAPP and by capitalizing on its solar resources, the country could meet both domestic and regional demand, thus diversifying the economy through electricity exports.

Thirdly, although an intermittent energy source, hybrid solutions using both solar and hydrocarbons could significantly enhance industrialization in the country, accelerating socio-economic growth through the manufacturing and services industries. As an exporter of fish, cashew nuts, and other products, the country could enhance its raw product processing capacity with the implementation of sustainable power networks. This would not only improve an existing industry, but create thousands of jobs, driving socio-economic growth even further.

According to the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Guinea-Bissau is the perfect destination for the testing and demonstration of grid-connected and mini-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Already, the country has seen the uptake of a number of solar projects since the implementation of national policies and revitalized investor interest. Notably, the West African Development Bank has funded the construction of a 20MW solar PV plant near the capital, as well as two 1MW hybrid mini-grid systems in Gabu and Cahungo. The country is also currently operating and installing the biggest renewable energy hybrid mini-grid projects in the ECOWAS region.

Meanwhile, advancements in solar can be attributed to the establishment of renewable policies by the government. Notably, the National Sustainable Energy Investment Plan – an overarching policy that aims to accelerate investment in green energy – calls for $700 million to transform the energy sector by 2030. In conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Action Plan, these policies are committed to increasing access to electricity to approximately 80% by 2030, with more than $50 million having already been committed to this objective.

Rebuilding public administration, creating an enabling environment for private investment, and promoting economic diversification represent just some of the challenges faced by Guinea-Bissau in its journey towards economic growth. However, with the implementation of these policies, demonstrated political will, and readily awaiting resources, Guinea-Bissau is well on its way to become a green energy economy.

In response to growing demand for renewable power and increasing interest by international stakeholders to invest, develop, and succeed in Africa, Energy Capital & Power will host the  MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021 Conference and Exhibition on December 16th and 17th. Focused on enhancing regional partnerships, spurring investment and development in the oil, gas and power sectors, the conference will unite regional international stakeholders with African opportunities, serving as a growth-oriented platform for Africa’s energy sector.

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Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands is the Deputy Editor at Energy Capital & Power. She holds a Higher Certificate in Professional Photography and Masters in Media Studies from the University of Cape Town. Charné writes content for ECP's website and events as well as co-authored African Energy Chamber: Road to Recovery.

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