New Projects Improve Energy Access
Eager to capitalize on the significant solar potential available across the region, MSGBC nations have been driving a series of solar projects over the recent year. In 2022, Senegal launched a 23 MW solar plant 40km outside of the capital city of Dakar, which is expected to save state utility, Senelec approximately $2.7 million per annum in fuel costs over the project’s 25-year lifespan.
In Mauritania, British energy major bp signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government for the research and development of the rollout of green hydrogen, including the assessment of the country’s solar resources to produce green hydrogen. The year 2022 also saw Mauritania inking a Framework Agreement for the $40 billion AMAN green hydrogen project – targeting 12 GW of solar and 18 GW of wind – as well as the completion of the pre-feasibility study for the Project Nour green hydrogen facility, which includes 3 GW of solar.
Advancements in Local Content
Local content has been made a priority across the MSGBC region’s solar space, with nations pushing for the training of technicians and scaling up of the local workforce in this industry. In August 2022, Senegalese subsidiary of German consulting group, Gauff Engineering, saw 247 Senegalese students graduate a five-day intensive solar operations, maintenance and remote supervision course. These qualified trainees are to lead in the delivery of stand-alone solar power mini-grids to 300 rural villages, bringing electricity to 20,000 households.
Integrating Solar Across Sectors
In addition to power generation projects, the MSGBC region has been integrating solar systems with other sectors of the economy. On the agriculture front, both Senegal and Guinea-Conakry introduced solar irrigation pumping systems (SIPS) to replace traditional diesel generators. Projects launched last year include GreenTec’s 50kWp solar facility – powering treatment and desalination for a 2,000 liter per hour drinking water supply in Senegal – Enda Tiers Monde’s community SIPS installations, supplying 400 market gardeners with water in Senegal; the Bonergie irrigation project, comprising 2,000 pumps and 500 drip irrigation systems, among others.
On the mining side, Canadian gold mining company Kinross invested $55 million in the solar to power its Tasiast mine in Mauritania. As the mining industry expands regionally, players are expected to turn their attention to solar to power operations.
Despite representing a relatively new sector, the MSGBC solar market is set to witness significant growth as new players flock to the region, governments intensify electrification efforts and new investment flows into the market due to energy transition-related capital trends.
Yet, while the world expects up to 600 GW of new solar capacity to be added in the next five years, Africa continues to receive merely 2% of global investments. As such, the upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference and exhibition – taking place in Mauritania from November 21-22 – will position the region as the destination of choice for foreign investment, while subsequently, inviting new players to connect with regional energy opportunities. With the region celebrating first oil and gas production this year, the conference will drive the conversation on what happens next, and how the region can better position itself as a global renewable energy hub with the adoption of technologies such as solar.