Developing renewable energy projects in Africa becoming ‘easy’, claims IPP

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The president and chief executive officer of Windiga Energy, a Canadian-based independent power producer, said it is now easy to develop renewable energy projects, like PV, in Africa.

Benoit La Salle’s comment follows Windiga’s announcement last week that the company had agreed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the National Electricity Company of Burkina Faso (SONABEL) for a 20MW photovoltaic plant in Zina, Mouhoun in the West African country Burkina Faso.

The plant is on track to be the largest solar power plant in sub-Saharan Africa and to produce an estimated 34GWh of energy annually, fulfilling 10% of Burkina Faso’s energy needs. La Salle said that with government's keen to procure renewable energy, many of the hurdles to development have been removed.

“It is extremely easy,” La Salle told PV tech. “Now that the governments have all included renewable energy in their strategies.”

“The utilisation of renewables in the portfolio of the projects in Africa is now welcome and it is extremely easy,” reiterated La Salle.

La Salle also told PV tech the greatest threat to Windiga’s projects in Africa is not traditional energy providers.

“Time. As soon as you’re an independent power producer, you’re biggest enemy is time.”

He also confirmed that Windiga had hired Siemens German as its engineering, procurement, and construction contractor. La Salle also listed the African Development Bank and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund as the project’s financial partners and said construction will commence following financial close with those partners. The total debt facility of the project is US$40 million and La Salle said he expects to close the deal on 1 February, 2015 and begin the 14-month project.

Last week Windiga also announced several other projects in Africa that include two separate waste-to-energy plants in the African province of Mauritania, and a 20-year PPA for the construction and operation of a 20MW solar power plant in northern Tilli.

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