Stakeholders in the energy sector discuss challenges to ECOWAS energy ambitions

ECREEE – Dakar 9th March 2018 – The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, (ECREEE), was established to create an enabling environment for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in the region and works steadfastly to implement activities directed to mitigating existing barriers impeding the large scale promotion of renewable energy & energy efficiency.

Mr. Diallo, Program Officer at ECREEE made these remarks during his presentation at the West Africa Power Summit on behalf of the Executive Director, Mr. Mahama Kappiah, held in the Senegalese capital Dakar from the 7th to 9th March 2018.

The Summit was organized by the Vale Media Group in partnership with SENELEC and ANER on the theme “Meeting the technological, financial, regulatory challenges to ECOWAS energy ambitions”.

It brought together experts and development partners in a bid to identify challenges and discuss ways and means of amplifying and improving access to clean and renewable energy in the sub-region.

In his presentation on the “West African clean Energy Corridor: Investment Opportunities”, Mr. DIALLO stated that the current energy situation of the ECOWAS region, which characterized by the very low electricity access rates and energy insecurity is somewhat of a paradox that needs to be addressed. He continued to say that the region is endowed with abundant energy resources be it conventional or renewable.

Mr. DIALLO then informed delegates that ECREEE was established in 2008 by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers to exactly address the aforementioned energy challenges by promote the development of sustainable energy markets within a sub-region, which has a population of 350 million, with less than 50% electricity access. He told delegates that with an average solar radiation of 5-6kw/m2 per day, 23,00mw of viable exploitable hydro potential capacity, 8/s of wind speed and biomass in abundance, the sub-region should be able to establish itself as a force to reckon with when it comes to renewable energy.

Mr. DIALLO informed delegates that ECREEE is the focal institution of SE4ALL within ECOWAS. In partnership with the EU, RECP, UNIDO, governments of Australia and Spain, ECREEE has facilitated the development of national renewable energy action plans (NREAPs), national energy efficiency action plans (NEEAP) and SE4ALL Action agendas across the 15 member states. These according to Mr. DIALLO are geared towards the attainment of 75% access to energy in 2020 and 100% by 2030, as well as, 60% access to clean cooking energy by 2020 and 100% in 2030.

Mr. Sire pointed out that such a lofty goal would require heavy investment and therefore highlighted that an investment prospectus drafted and validated in 13 out of 15 member states. These investment prospectuses are developed around four (4) main pipeline: (1) grid-connected generation and distribution, (2) Off-grid and stand-alone, (3) bio-energy & cooking energy, (4) efficiency projects.

In order to drastically change the plight of the region, ECREEE in partnership with IRENA, WAPP, and ERERA has initiated the West African Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC). The initiative aims at meeting significant share of the region’s demand for electricity with renewable energy. WACEC also seeks to promote cross-border electricity trade from renewable energy sources.

Given the fact that solar (PV) is a proven technology, ECREEE and its partners have decided to develop the West Africa Solar Corridor as the first component of the West African Clean Energy Corridor. ‘’The Solar Corridor aims to develop 2GW of solar generation in short term (2020) and 10 GW in the long term (2030), said Mr. DIALLO.

The program Officer identified uncompetitive policies and subsidies, battery back-up requirement and technical bureaucracy as factors that are impeding the development of utility-scale solar power plants. However, he noted that these barriers and challenges could be reduced through appropriate corrective measures such as: regulatory frame work, integrated planning and inter-connection, capacity building (transfer of technology) and public support.

Mr. DIALLO also stressed the need to strengthen national electricity companies and showcasing innovative solar projects, as “preconditions for the realization of the solar corridor”.

He said, “there is absolutely no lack funds for investment, however, the investors’’ confidence need to be increased when it comes to the ECOWAS region’’. ECREEE’s efforts have been focused on finding risk mitigation measures in order to facilitate deals between off-takers and investors.

Solar Corridor mainly targets countries where the solar electricity generation potential is very high. These countries have special conditions because the solar generation potential exceeds significantly the local electricity requirements and the possibility exists to “export solar electricity”.

In the “Solar Corridor” large-scale solar generation plants near large load centers could be built at very attractive conditions and low generation costs due to economies of scale and high solar radiation the target countries are Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and the Northern parts of Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. In closing, Mr. DIALLO noted that the total investment cost to install the 10 GW solar generation is estimated to be slightly over 10 billion USD and the total grid-connection costs are estimated to be 1.2 billion USD. To him this priority initiative is an investor’s dream and ECREEE is working hard to ensure countries are ready to engage with serious developers in the near future once all studies are finalized.