Friday, April 19, 2013

Masdar unveils Africa's largest solar PV plant

15MW power station in Mauritania will account for 10 per cent of the country's energy capacity
A giant $32m solar PV plant officially opened in West Africa yesterday has been hailed as the continent's largest.
The 15MW solar PV power plant in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott accounts for 10 per cent of the country's energy capacity and is expected to displace 21,225 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
It consists of 29,826 thin-film panels and was built using sustainable construction practices - including a support structure piled into the ground instead of a concrete foundation - which helped to reduce the project's carbon footprint and cost.
The Mauritanian grid is primarily powered by expensive diesel generators and currently has a capacity of just 144MW, which results in severe energy shortages.
Masdar, the Abu Dhabi renewable energy company, said the new solar array will provide energy for 10,000 homes and help the country cope with the 12 per cent annual increase in energy demand it currently experiences.
With strong solar and wind energy resources, Mauritania has the potential to derive a significant portion of its electricity capacity from clean, sustainable and reliable sources of energy. According to official estimates, its wind energy potential alone is almost four times its annual energy demand.
"Energy access is a pathway to economic and social opportunity," said Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz at yesterday's inauguration ceremony.
"This new solar power plant not only provides much needed grid capacity for our people, it also proves that renewable energy can play a major role in the development of our country."
The project is the latest in a series of renewable energy projects Masdar is working on in developing countries. They include a 6MW wind farm project in the Seychelles, off-grid solar PV systems in Afghanistan capable of supplying 600 residences, and a 500kW solar PV project on the island of Vava'u in Tonga.
"Renewable energy has the potential to be a major contributor to the energy mix in developing countries where access to conventional energy is limited," said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar.
"With energy demand expected to nearly double by 2030, renewable energy will play an increasingly important role, especially in countries where demand is rapidly outstripping supply."