Amy.Offord_111 Nov 29

Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye Signifies Winds of Change for West African Renewables

Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye Signifies Winds of Change for West African Renewables image
For more than 12 years, a plan has been evolving and progressing in Senegal’s energy sector, building to a situation now where the region’s first utility-scale windfarm has a projected operation life of more than 20 years; contributing 158.7MW of clean reliable power to the country.
Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye (PETN) is the project in question, and Lekela has been on board as the principal partner since 2016.

The company’s General Manager for Senegal, Massaer Cisse, discusses the history, significance and evolution of PETN here.

“The idea for Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye was first conceived in 2007, the region being chose as an ideal location for Senegal’s and indeed West Africa’s first utility-scale windfarm due to its strong and predictable winds,” Cisse looks back. “Lekela came on board as the principal investment partner in 2016 to accelerate the development of the project, secure the financing arrangements for construction, and begin work on a socio-economic programme that will benefit the Taiba N’Diaye region.

“Overall the project will provide 158.7MW of clean reliable power to Senegal. This will represent a 15 percent increase in electricity generation capacity for the country, providing power for millions of people. It forms a critical component of the Government’s Plan Senegal Emergent.” 
A clear plan for renewable energy

The wind farm, which will operate for at least 20 years, will also see up to $20 million invested into projects to benefit the local community. As such it has become one of the continent’s most revered and significant wind power project to date.
Perhaps more importantly in the long-run, however, it also puts Senegal on the map when it comes to renewables.

“There are great opportunities in Senegal, as the country has a clear plan for energy and in particular renewable energy,” Cisse continues. “What’s more, this is coupled with a determination from the Government to carry out its broader Plan Senegal Emergent, of which PETN is a key part. Our close relationship with and support from Senelec, the national energy utility, has also been crucial to our progress.”

It’s important to Lekela to be a long-term operator in the country, to adhere to and capitalise on the opportunities present there. For PETN specifically though, despite already being on a 12-year journey, the process is still ongoing.

“For PETN, construction will be a process that takes up to two years and will create 600 employment opportunities at peak construction,” Cisse says. “However, it is important that our involvement in the project and work with the local communities continues long after construction has finished. 
“We have signed an agreement that ensures that the 46 turbines will generate electricity for Senegal over the next 20 years. Our involvement also extends beyond the practicalities of running the wind farm, however, as we look to have a lasting positive impact on the local people. This is a crucial aspect of our strategy.”

Ambitious renewable energy outputs

Looking at the situation more broadly, West Africa is only at the beginning of its wind adventure. PETN is the first utility-scale wind project in the region, in contrast to countries like Egypt where Lekela has recently completed financial close on a 250MW project; and Morocco which finished construction on its first windfarm back in 2000.

South Africa is of course ahead of the game too, while Lake Turkana Wind Power Station in Kenya represents a 300MW addition to East Africa’s compliment as the continent’s largest windfarm.
“We’re seeing a number of exciting wind projects across Africa, as countries become more ambitious in improving their renewable energy outputs, and investors better understand the opportunities available,” Cisse says. “There’s a great deal of work being done, and that is reflected in more than 1,000MW of projects in construction and operation in our own pipeline across the continent. “We currently have three projects in operation in South Africa, and a further two in construction.”

Championing wind

Overall, the international conversation around renewables has grown as investors and decision-makers become more attuned to its benefits. For governments it also contributes greatly to a wider environmental agenda that so many are judged on in the modern climate.
“At Lekela, we think that renewables are the way forward, as we can deliver competitively priced, clean energy to the grid far quicker than traditional fossil approaches,” Cisse explains. “Thankfully, wind power and renewable energy are taken very seriously by ECOWAS and the body’s Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), showing that improving access to sustainable energy is a priority for many nations in the region. 

“More and more countries are recognising the need to invest in renewable power, and Africa is no exception. There are many countries, like Senegal, that are keen to take advantage of their excellent renewable resources. Ghana is one such example where we are in late stage developments on a wind project in the country.”

Considering windfarms can take less than two years to build, the opportunity to deliver energy to the grid and bring projects to fruition quicker is very real. And Lekela hopes to champion this notion moving forward. 

“Wind and other renewables remove the cost, complexity and currency risk associated with importing traditional fuel sources,” Cisse concludes. “To this end we are already seeing greater investment and interest in African wind opportunities and, over the coming years, we only expect to see this grow. 
“At Lekela, we’re keen to champion the positive effects that wind power and renewables more broadly can have; helping nations with improved access to electricity and delivering it in a clean and reliable way. All the while we’re creating long-term value for the communities in which these projects operate. 

“We’re always seeking further renewable energy opportunities across Africa to add to our portfolio and hope to see more African nations open themselves up to renewable opportunities.”