Ivory Coast Bolstering Strained Power Grid With New Solar Power Plant

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Ivory Coast is planning to build a new solar power plant in the north of the country in order to ease pressure on its already overtaxed power grid.

The 25 MegaWatt solar power station will provide further electricity supply to the strained grid in the West African nation, which typically relies on gas and oil-fired thermal plants to produce energy.

At a cost of $40 million, the power station will be built by Korhogo Solaire, a subsidiary of Morocco’s Nova Power, and it is expected to be complete by 2018, according to CNBCAfrica.

Access to electricity remains a serious issue on the African continent, with around 625 million people still without decent access to power, and in Ivory Coast an estimated 38 percent of the country does not have any access to a grid that is already overstretched, according to the World Bank.

New solar power plant to boost renewable energy mix

The power plant, which will be built in Benguébougou, will sell electricity to local utility Compagnie Ivoirienne d’Electricité (CIE), with the energy ministry revealing that the maximum price at which the facility would deliver power was $0.12/kWh.

“The realization of this plant will improve the balance of the energy mix, which requires an increasingly strong integration of renewable energy,” explained government spokesperson Bruno Kone, according to EngineeringNews.

Solar is a renewable energy option with great potential in Ivory Coast, as solar energy prospects in the country can be measured at 2.0-6.0 kWh/m2/day, with an average of six hours of sunshine each day, according to research conducted by the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme.

The power sector in the country is under growing pressure, with demand for electricity increasing by around 10 percent per year.

The Ivorian government has set out the objective of installing 150 MegaWatts of generation capacity by 2020, with projects such as this solar plant helping to achieve that target, according to PVMagazine.

At the moment, the West African country has an installed capacity of 1.77 GigaWatts, allowing it to export power to neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.