If you were paying some of the highest electricity rates in the world, you would anticipate receiving some of the most dependable electricity services. Unfortunately, this reasoning does not apply to West Africa, where access is restricted, service quality is subpar, and tariffs are double those of East Africa.
This results from several nations’ reliance on their expensively imported, primarily small-scale, ineffective power generation options & systems. Since these high tariffs do not even cover costs, utilities are frequently underfunded and require subsidies that are as high as 1% of GDP.
An overview of West Africa’s Power Pool:
As West African nations cooperate to ‘pool’ their power infrastructure for better usage and share less expensive, more environmentally friendly energy sources nearby, change is taking place. The area contains abundant natural energy resources, including hydropower, gas, wind, and solar energy, particularly along the coast and in the Sahel.
By the middle of the decade, the West African Power Pool (WAPP), founded in 1999, hopes to connect the 14 mainland members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and create a self-sufficient regional power market that provides everyone with inexpensive electricity.
The economic benefits of the regional power market are estimated to be up to US$665 million per year, with average electricity generation costs likely to decline by a quarter to a third. The World Bank has provided funding for WAPP-related investments in institutional capacity and transmission infrastructure totaling over US$2.3 billion over the last ten years.
The power industry in the MSGBC region is about to transition with up to $9 billion in hydrocarbon developments, a $43.5 billion green hydrogen project in Mauritania, and a variety of small- to large-scale renewable energy projects anticipated to go online over the next few years.
Opportunities within the scalable power generation in West Africa:
Exploiting low-carbon energy sources will play a significant role in shaping power generation options. As a result, the upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference, which will be inaugurated by H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal and current Chairperson of the African Union, will provide crucial insight into these power generation options & opportunities.
The conference will address the strategic role of these low-carbon energy sources in enhancing power generating options & capacity through a roundtable debate under the theme “Financing Electrification within the Energy Transition,” forming a powerful west African energy transition narrative ahead of COP 27 this year in Egypt. Here is the information you should know about the potential capacity of each significant energy source in the MSGBC basin in light of this.
- Solar Energy for the Region:
Within the next five years, 600 GW of new photovoltaic generation capacity is anticipated to be added globally, with the solar cost decreasing by 85%. Senegal has an insolation potential of 1,600–1,800 kWh/kWp/yr, significantly higher than the global average.
Since the first solar plant in the country opened in 2017, 200 MW of solar capacity have been installed, and the country’s prospects are very similar to those of its neighbors. Solar energy has a 457.9 GW development potential in Mauritania. However, there hasn’t been much money invested in this renewable energy source as one of the best power generation options.
However, the innovative Sahel Solar Project from the African Development Bank has established 10 G.W. of off-grid solar in rural areas spanning Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Senegal in just a few years, taking the lead in the industry.
Senegal is also on the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program’s radar, thanks to the creation of 60 M.W. of new solar energy last year. Solar energy is still the most affordable energy source in the area, costing less than 4 cents per kWh.
- Increasing Natural Gas Capacity for Power Generation:
With Woodside’s Sangomar field producing 60-100 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas per day and B.P.’s Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) project producing 35 mcf, an estimated 600-840 MW of gas-to-power generation options and capacity is set to come online.
Senegal currently has a net capacity of 1.3 GW, of which 60% is oil, 13% is coal, and 6% is natural gas. Therefore, domestic gas production may displace oil as the main energy source while gradually phasing out carbon-intensive coal.
The 15 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas at GTA represents only a small portion of the basin’s 50 tcf of known reserves; if tapped at rates comparable to GTA, the basin’s reserves might add 515 MW of capacity over several decades. Additionally, Sangomar’s 500 million barrels and the basin’s nine billion barrels of oil equivalent might each produce 4.32 GW of trapped gas.
- Discovering Wind Opportunity:
The MSGBC region’s total wind power density at 100 meters above the ground is less than 260 W/m2, below the world average. However, due to their extensive coastlines, the MSGBC countries have identified a niche market opportunity that offers around one-tenth the net generating potential of solar at similarly low costs.
The 158.7 MW Taiba N’Diaye plant, located in Senegal, is west Africa’s largest wind power station and provides night-peaking power generation options to balance solar energy’s day-dominant tendencies for continuous supply.
Lekela, an African power company, is looking into the possibility of expanding Taiba N’Diaye’s capacity by an additional 100 MW. The 102.4 MW Boulenouar Wind Farm in Mauritania, which will cost $150 million, is expected to start operating in the fourth quarter of this year.
- A Future with Better Energy in West Africa:
Scalability and cost-efficiency are concerns for investors, business leaders, and politicians as MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2022 draws near. Although the supply of green hydrogen produced by electrolyzing seawater is limitless, this process needs a lot of energy to be viable.
Mauritania chose hybrid solar and wind slate developments, totaling 23 G.W. for the former and 18 G.W. for the latter, to balance this equation in its $43.5 billion green hydrogen project agreements announced last year.
Despite having the fastest-growing population in the world, every country in West Africa has set a medium-term goal of achieving universal electricity. For economic growth from energy exports, production must match and exceed demand. Still, for an equitable transition, gas investments must be made in tandem with those in solar and wind power generation options.
The Final Words:
Visit the website Prismecs to participate in discussions on these problems with other delegates and to benefit from unrivaled networking opportunities with the region’s top energy decision-makers. Here you’ll find a lot of data about scalable energy generation. Visit https://prismecs.com/ to know more about power generation options.