After a slow start, several west African nations may begin to catch the renewable wave, with a proposal for an international clean energy corridor stretching from Senegal to Niger and generating up to two gigawatts of clean power.
The plan would see several countries call tenders for multiple small (10- to 15-megawatt) and mid-sized (200- to 500-MW) wind and solar projects at once, simplifying the bidding process, according to Mahama Kappiah, executive director of the Economic Community of West African States’ Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
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The distributed installations will mainly serve local loads, Kappiah said, since few countries in the region have electrical grids into which their output could feed.
“Most of the grid networks in these countries are composed of either one line, or they do not have a grid at all,” he told PV-Tech. “Senegal, Mali, Côte D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, each have just one line,” while “Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Gambia have no grid. If you say people have to wait for a grid before getting electricity, they will have to wait another 30 years.” Distributed, small-scale solar “is not a solution for the future, it is a solution for today.”
The plan could help the region leapfrog another 20th-century technology, skipping fossil fuels entirely and proceeding directly to a renewable energy economy.
Kappiah said he hoped to see the plan receive the necessary approvals by year-end.
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