The construction of a regional solar power plant is taking shape in West Africa. The facility will be built in The Gambia under the coordination of the Economic Community of West African States (Cedeo). A validation meeting of the feasibility study for this regional project was recently validated during a meeting organized by the West African Electric Power Exchange System (WAPP) in the Gambian capital Banjul.
It was in the presence of the heads of the national electricity companies of the member countries of the Organization for the Development of the Gambia River Basin (OMVG), the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (Erera ) and the World Bank. The plant will be built in two phases on a 225-hectare site identified since 2019 by the Gambian authorities, in Soma, a town located in central Gambia, near the border with Senegal. This is a strategic site since it is located near a 225/30 kV OMVG substation.
The sale of electricity in four West African countries
With a capacity of 80 MWp, the first phase of the photovoltaic solar power plant will be intended for the domestic needs of The Gambia. This West African country has one of the lowest installed capacities in the sub-region, i.e. 167 MW according to the authorities, which are counting on a power of 250 MW by the end of 2025. In 2020 , the country had a rate of access to electricity of 62.3% for a population estimated the same year at 2.4 million inhabitants by the World Bank.
Part of the electricity produced (70 MWp) by the regional solar power plant installed in The Gambia will be destined for the regional network operated by the OMVG. This second phase, which will be completed in 2026, will make it possible to sell clean electricity to the public companies Electricité de Guinée (EDG), Electricidade e Aguas da Guine-Bissau (EAGB), and to the National Electricity Company of Senegal (Senelec ).
In 2019, the Gambian authorities were considering the installation of a battery storage system with a capacity ranging from 100 to 150 MWh, in order to compensate for the intermittency linked to the production of photovoltaic solar energy. In addition to the World Bank, the project is also supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has pledged funding of $164 million.
Jean Marie Takouleu