Senegal is a country with abundant natural resources and one of the most auspicious lands potentially for renewable energy. With vital solar and wind resources, Senegal is well-positioned to transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean, sustainable energy sources. This blog post will explore the potential for solar and wind power in Senegal and examine the country’s steps to harness these resources.
Unleashing Solar Power
Senegal has been expanding its grid over the last three decades; however, more than a quarter of the country still needs access to power. It is essential to highlight that Senegal receives an average of 2,500 hours of sunshine per year, guaranteeing it the highest level of solar radiation in the northern region and a perfect location for solar power generation. Senegal has already begun to take advantage of this potential by advancing its efforts towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future by launching two new solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in Kahone and Kael. With a combined capacity of 60 MWac, these plants will provide energy at some of the lowest prices in sub-Saharan Africa, offering clean and affordable power to nearly 540,000 people in Senegal.
Senegal has recently inaugurated a new 120 MW thermal power plant in Malicounda, located about 85 km from the capital, Dakar. The plant incorporates a cycle power plant consisting of two turbines that can produce more electricity with the same amount of fuel. The Malicounda power plant was built under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) involving investment company Africa50, energy company Melec PowerGen, and the Senegalese National Electricity Company. While the initial fuel used is fuel oil, the plant will be transformed to natural gas when the country begins to control its local deposits, including the Great Ahmeyim Turtle (GTA) field, which is expected during 2023. The Malicounda power plant has a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) under which the produced energy is moved into the Senelec grid. The Senegalese government’s choice of gas shows the desire to embrace natural gas as a leading energy source and as a means to accelerate economic development.
Harnessing Wind Energy
Senegal’s coastal regions are experiencing some of the most robust wind speeds in West Africa. The government has recognized this potential and has launched several initiatives to harness wind energy, positioning its wind energy efforts as West Africa’s largest wind power plant. One key focus in advancing the nation’s low-carbon journey is enhancing access to power through wind energy, specifically in rural regions, as outlined in the country’s 2018 energy policy. More than 2 million of the Senegalese population will have access to electrical energy by implementing wind power plants.
Industrial, Commercial, and Transportation Sectors
Despite the addition of large-scale renewable energy projects, most of its energy demands still need to be met through oil and diesel imports, leading to high energy prices, inadequate supply, and frequent power cuts. Relying on fossil fuels has its toll on the environment and the economy and impacts the performance and competitiveness of the country’s industries. Therefore, Senegal is actively working towards renewable energy with different sectors and introducing tax incentives for businesses that invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. To decrease the dependence on fossil fuels, the government is encouraging the shift toward electric vehicles and introducing policies that promote biofuel use.