Energy experts discuss Road Map for the implementation of the Solar Corridor in West Africa

Dakar, Senegal 13th October 2017 – The Executive Director of ECREEE, Mr. Mahama Kappiah has spoken of the importance of enhancing international cooperation on clean energy and promoting sustainable development in emerging markets.  This he said is not only an option, but a must, if we are to transform the region’s abundant renewable energy resources and chart an energy future anchored on clean and low carbon energy technologies to achieve universal energy access and sustained economic growth and social advancement.

The ECREEE boss was speaking at the ECOWAS sustainable energy forum held in Dakar in the session of the West Africa Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC) initiative. Mr. Kappiah told delegates that West Africa Clean Energy Corridor Initiative was created by ECREEE in collaboration with other stakeholders including, IRENA, WAPP, and ERERA. He said the initiative aims at meeting a significant share of the region’s demand for electricity using abundant renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro.  Within the WACEC initiative ECREEE is hoping to take advantage of the high solar irradiation in the region, right away as a least cost option.

Mr. Kappiah said the solar corridor will be integrated with four other regional renewable energy corridors, taking into consideration the synergies and complementarities between different sources of energy. He informed delegates that the preliminary target of the Solar Corridor is to develop 2 GW in solar generation capacity by 2020) and 10 GW by 2030. He pointed out that the European Union is already providing strong support for the West Africa Solar Corridor and expressed optimism that working together, we could make the Corridor a signature project in the ECOWAS region.

Mr. Kappiah noted that regional and inter-regional power sector integration provides opportunities for exploiting the economies of scale of large hydropower, solar, wind and biomass projects which he said saves billions of dollars in development, operation and maintenance costs. Mr. Kappiah called for a concerted effort and firm commitment from all stakeholders to support the noble initiative and ensure that the ECOWAS Clean Energy Corridor becomes a reality.

The West Africa Clean Energy Corridor Initiative was developed on the strong political commitment of African leaders to strengthen regional generation and transmission infrastructure.  It provides a unique opportunity to complement other important conventional sources of power production such as large hydro and natural gas and also to foster regional power trade.

A key element of WACEC is the Solar Corridor, which was analysed in a detailed study conducted with support from the EU SE4ALL Technical Assistance Facility. The “Solar Corridor” runs across a number ECOWAS  countries where the solar generation potential significantly exceeds local electricity requirements and where large-scale solar generation plants could be built at low generation costs, thus benefitting from economies of scale and high solar electricity generation potential. The Corridor has the potential to address the uneven distribution of the region’s power generation resources, and will ultimately improve the region’s power supply, and contribute towards further regional energy integration.

In presenting a proposed Road Map for the implementation of the Solar Corridor, the Lead Consultant, Jebesh Amissah-Arthur stressed the need for government and public support towards the realization of the project objectives. Mr. Amissah-Arthur outlined the way forward for the successful monitoring, and evaluation of the solar corridor road map.  This he said requires innovative ways of providing financing, overcome credit risk perceptions and mitigate risks, adoption of low emission development strategy to access carbon financing as well as uniform, clearly defined and transparent methodology for pricing.

The Program officer Renewable Energy at ECREEE, Mr. Sire Diallo also dilated on the progress made since the inception of the program, noting that the ECOWAS region has increased from a production 6 mw of solar energy in 2010 to over 100 mw in 2016. This he said shows that the region is ready for utility-scale solar projects from an enabling environment standpoint. However, he noted that this progress is the results of effort from only a handful of countries. Therefore, Mr. Siré Diallo called on other ECOWAS member countries to join the group.

The solar corridor involves the following ECOWAS member countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo. Though all fifteen member states will be involved in some aspect, through a cluster setting grouping countries, which are interconnected.

The participants showed lots of interest in the West African Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC) initiative. During the discussions many urged for immediate activities to bring all member states to speed with the WACEC initiative to ensure buy-in and concerted actions.