In H.E. President Macky Sall’s government and African Union leadership role, climate mitigation has found a strong leader, but with the COP27 summit approaching in Egypt this November, Senegal and the African continent will be in the spotlight regarding work done towards the energy transition and renewable energy development. The issue is an urgent one —in Senegal alone, extreme water events and pollution have cost the nation 10% of its GDP and internal climate migration is expected to reach 1 million people by 2050. But adoption of solar, wind, hydro and other green power sources has proportionately advanced in line with the dire situation, following H.E. President Sall’s exemption of VAT tariffs on solar panels and associated technologies, in 2020.
This year’s MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference in Dakar is set to establish an inclusive, sustainable narrative for African energy, embracing the low-carbon transition with delegates and speakers covering the entire energy value chain from technology to service providers, policy to investment and at a time when the west African region is taking global center stage for green power. Senegal will join the G7 this month as it prepares a bilateral energy transition partnership agreement with Germany, while planning key energy exports to Europe. Here are the key renewable developments to watch in the nation over the coming year.
Last year alone, Senegal added 60 MW in solar generation capacity through the World Bank Scaling Solar program with some of the lowest energy prices across sub-Saharan Africa – under 4 cents per kWh. This year, a farming community in the port town of Saint-Louis benefited from a pilot solar pump system that saw the subsequent signing of a $2.4 million partnership for the installation of 2,000 similar pumps across Senegal in the next three years. And last week witnessed the inauguration of a $21.4 million, 23 MW solar plant in Diass, 40km out of Dakar, supplying 33,000 Senegalese households with power and saving SENELEC $2.77 million per annum in fuel costs over its 25-year lifespan. As it stands, Senegal has 112 MW of installed solar, however with 90% of its land area boasting a globally significant photovoltaic capacity of 1600-1800kWh/year, this figure can be expected to rise in coming years.
Senegal is home to the largest wind farm in west Africa with the Taiba N’Diaye facility located 108km north-east of Dakar. This wind farm has 46 Vestas V126 turbines spread over 40 hectares generating 158.7 MW or 400 GWh each year, supplying 2 million people with electricity and mitigating 300,000 tons of carbon emissions each year. Taiba N’Diaye is owned and operated by Lekela, a British renewable energy development firm who hold a 20-year power purchase agreement with SENELEC, signed in 2013. Engineering, procurement and construction of the station was awarded to Vestas, a Danish wind turbine manufacturer, in 2018 along with a 20-year operations and maintenance contract. The three-phase construction reached commercial commissioning in December last year, increasing Senegal’s national power generation capacity by 15%, feeding into the grid via the Tobene substation. December 2021 also saw Lekela receive funding from the U.S. International development Finance Corporation to carry out feasibility studies for the addition of a further 100 MW capacity and additional battery storage beyond the 175 MWh, already installed.
In March, the World Bank pledged $150 million towards Senegal’s Energy Access Scale Up Project, connecting 200,000 houses to the grid and introducing fresh power to regional communities through renewables. But as recent years have shown, Senegal is taking strides forward by itself towards a zero-carbon energy grid. The MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference taking place in the nation this September will highlight this whilst catalyzing best practise sharing across the region’s stakeholders and nations, forging new investment deals for projects through African and European investment delegations, and developing powerful transnational partnerships to support renewable energies’ adoption. Already Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea combine resources and expertise in the Senegal River Basin Development Organization, generating 800 GWh in hydropower each year shared between the nations. And with both policy reforms and renewable energy cost effectiveness, there has never been a more attractive time nor platform, to see west African power go green, leading the world at COP27 and beyond.