Burkina Faso has become the latest West African state to reveal plans for a utility-scale PV power plant.
An investment agreement signed by the country’s minsters of energy and economy will enable Canadian independent power producer, Windiga Energy, to press ahead with plans for a 20MW PV plant in the west of the country.
Windiga said the agreement would allow it to finalise a power purchase agreement with national utility, the National Electricity Company of Burkina (SONABEL), covering the plant’s entire electricity production for 25 years.
The plant, Burkina Faso’s first, will be built in Zina, Mouhoun province, and is slated for completion in late 2015.
Siemens Energy Smart Generation Solutions has been selected to build and operate the plant.
Windiga said potential financiers included the African Development Bank, the Frontier Markets Fund Managers and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.
Benoit La Salle, president and chief executive of Windiga Energy, said: “We are very pleased with the support that we received from both the governments of Burkina Faso and Canada allowing us to conclude this strategic agreement that will bring about the construction of a major renewable energy project and the launch of the solar energy industry in Burkina Faso.”
Burkino Faso joins Ghana and Nigeria as early solar leaders in the region, with work well underway on a 150MW PV plant in Ghana and plans for large-scale PV development beginning to emerge in Nigeria.
West Africa counts some of the world’s most economically dynamic but energy-poor countries among its number. This coupled with the high solar irradiation enjoyed through much of the region make it ideally placed to exploit the potential of PV energy, however the factors such as limited grid capacity and investor wariness of the region have so far held solar back.
This could change soon, with the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency of regional body ECOWAS working with member states to put in place national renewable energy action plans by the end of this year.
The opportunities and challenges for solar in West Africa will be explored in depth at Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa on 17-18 September. This event, organised by PV Tech’s publisher, Solar Media, will be held in Accra, Ghana. Further information is available here.