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Mauritania: Fertile Ground for Solar Energy Projects

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Energy is a priority for poverty reduction in Mauritania, according to its Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity Strategy. As a result, Mauritania’s government is attempting to boost the economy by expanding its electricity supply and encouraging investment in renewable energy.

The West African country is endowed with substantial renewable energy resources, especially solar, making for an inviting atmosphere for a variety of initiatives and projects in the sector.

The Desert-to-Power Initiative

The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors recently approved a $6 million grant to kick off the first phase of the Desert to Power West Africa Regional Energy Program. The Bank’s Desert to Power initiative aims to reshape the Sahel, in which Mauritania is included, by harnessing the region’s vast solar potential.

The grant money will go to the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to conduct pre-feasibility studies for the construction of the Sahel Transmission Backbone, which will connect regional solar parks in all five countries. It comes from the African Development Fund’s 15 (ADF-15) Regional Operations Envelope. As part of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Mini-Grid Program, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) of the ECOWAS will receive funding to enhance decentralized energy systems. The board gave their approval on July 1, 2021.

In terms of objectives, the initiative aims to stretch across the Sahel region, connecting 250 million people with electricity by tapping into the region’s abundant solar resources. Desert to Power will make the Sahel the world’s largest solar production zone with up to 10 000 MW of solar generation capacity

in addition to speeding up economic development through the deployment of solar technology.

“As the regional roadmap for Desert to Power takes shape, this program comes as a timely enabler for concerted and large-scale solar energy deployments in the G5 Sahel region, and it will help accelerate the energy transition,” said Dr. Daniel Schroth, acting Bank Director for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

The Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant

The Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant in Nouakchott, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a 15-megawatt solar installation. It is one of Africa’s largest solar power facilities and the country’s first utility-scale facility.

The facility is responsible for 10% of Mauritania’s grid capacity. It generates 25,409 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year and displaces approximately 21,225 tons of CO2. The plant’s almost 30,000 solar panels, manufactured by Masdar PV, provide electricity to more than 10,000 houses in Nouakchott.

The plant has produced more energy than expected, resulting in significant savings and accounting for an annual increase in demand. Since April 2013, the plant has produced more than 44 gigawatt-hours, reducing generator load during peak solar hours and lowering power-failure rates.

The power plant is one of numerous worldwide initiatives supported by Masdar.

KIFFA Hybrid Power Plant

Mauritanian utility (SOMELEC) issued a request for proposals, and the Vergnet-ABC Diesel pool was chosen to deliver the hybrid power plant project in Mauritania. It will be the first of its kind in the sub-region of West Africa. The project combines a 1.3 MWp solar PV plant with a 5 MW thermal plant for Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC).

The power plant will be built on a new site near the town of Kiffa (the country’s third-largest city), and will feed both Kiffa and Guérou, as well as several other communities in between. The new plant will be the only producing station on Kiffa’s isolated electrical grid, replacing the present power plants in the two towns (diesel generators).

Vergnet partnered with ABC Diesel to complete this unique project. The project’s implementation requires both firms’ knowledge and dedication to offer cutting-edge renewable energy solutions.

CWP Global’s Power-to-x Hub

The Mauritanian government and CWP Global signed a pact in May this year to build the 30GW wind and solar power-to-x hub in the northern part of Mauritania, which is expected to be the world’s biggest renewable energy project.

With the deal, the government of Mauritania has promised to open its doors to international investors and to speed up the project’s development and licensing approvals process.

According to CWP, the $40 million project called ‘AMAN’ will be built on an 8,500km2 location in the Sahara, which has a high-capacity factory profile for wind and solar.

It intends to create green hydrogen from 30 GW of wind and solar power and export it and its derivatives all over the world.

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Jasser Hammami

Jasser Hammami