Senegal cements position as leading regional solar energy producer with modern twin facility
Senegalese Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne has inaugurated a twin solar facility, Ten Merina. This is a major milestone and cements Senegal’s position as the leading regional producer of solar energy.
The 92,000 solar panels were inaugurated this morning in Merina Dakhar, 120 km north-east of Dakar and they will supply electricity to some 225,000 people at much more competitive rates than those charged by the country’s existing thermal power stations.
By directly replacing oil-burning stations, the new solar power plant will also help to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 33,300 tonnes of CO².
One of West Africa’s biggest solar power plants Ten Merina has similar features to the Senergy project: a generating capacity of 30 Megawatts using similar technology and combining the French expertise of investment specialists Meridiam and Solairedirect, a subsidiary of French energy provider Engie.
The project also involves building network connection infrastructure on behalf of Senelec, the national power utility. The big difference with the Senergy project is that construction work was carried out by the French construction specialist – and joint project shareholder – Eiffage, which will also work alongside Solairedirect providing plant operation services.
It is funded by French development financial institution PROPARCO that has over time invested in the Senegalese solar power sector.
After funding 80% of the cost of Senergy, Proparco stepped up again in December 2016 with a loan of €18.4 million. Proparco also acted as arranger for financing the construction and operation of Ten Merina, giving it a key role in these two combined projects which will provide clean and sustainable energy to 450,000 households and reduce CO² emissions by 65,000 tonnes a year.
Fatoumata SISSOKO-SY, investment officer with Proparco’s West African Energy & Infrastructure division and its representative at the inauguration ceremony declared that, “Senegal is where Proparco financed its first West African solar power projects. We remain steadfastly committed to continuing these efforts and to supporting the emergence of new markets and new business models that help meet major challenges in terms of access to electricity. In particular, these include off-grid projects and supporting the future of solar power in Senegal, that is, solar storage, by building the initial infrastructure which includes these first privately-operated solar facilities in West Africa.
Along with Senergy, this new plant confirms the move to diversify Senegal’s energy mix which had previously been overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels (90% of the total mix).
The commissioning of Ten Merina – along with Senergy – is part of the Government’s Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE) programme and proof of its desire to deliver on the undertakings given at COP21 in December 2015.