SENEGAL – Senegal has inaugurated the first large-scale wind farm in West Africa, a facility that will supply nearly a sixth of the country’s power when it reaches full capacity later this year.
Reuters reported that the Senegal will derive 30% of its energy from the wind farm in line with a goal of President Macky Sall.
“The energy mix we have today allows us to move past our dependence on petrol,” said Papa Mademba Biteye, director-general of Senelec, the national electricity company, at an inauguration ceremony in the rural community of Taiba N’Diaye.
The 158 megawatt wind farm was built by British renewable power company Lekela, which also has wind farms in South Africa and Egypt and an upcoming one in Ghana.
Wind farms remain scarce throughout sub-Saharan Africa compared with solar plants, partly because they can cost more and take longer to build and because strong wind is generally less plentiful than sunshine, said Silvia Macri, an energy analyst at IHS Markit.
Macri however noted that Senegal pushed ahead its renewable agenda quite aggressively.
Senegal’s first solar plant came online three years ago, and the country has since built several more. Other countries in the region are following suit with solar but are much further behind in terms of wind, Macri said.
In Taiba N’Diaye where the farm is located, 46 giant wind turbines rise over scrubland about 90 km (56 miles) from the seaside capital. One-third are operating, and the rest are due to come online by June.
Outside the cities, much of Senegal is still not electrified. A world Bank report in 2017 indicated that electricity in the West African nation only reached about 60% of the 16 million population.
The wind farm according to senelec, will provide enough electricity for 2 million people and prevent the emission of 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.