Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic plant opens

19 Apr 2013

The solar PV arrays in the new plant based in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in Africa. Photo via Masdar

Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar has opened a 15-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Mauritania in west Africa. The US$32m plant is being heralded as the largest solar PV plant in all of Africa.

The plant is based in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, and will have the capacity to generate 15 megawatts (MW) of solar PV power. It consists of 29,826 micromorph thin-film panels.

According to Masdar, the plant will contribute to 10pc of Mauritania’s current electricity demand. The company expects the plant to displace 21,225 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

Mauritania’s electricity grid, which is powered mostly by diesel generators, currently has an installed capacity of 144MW. With the country’s energy demand increasing by 12pc annually, Masdar believes the new solar facility will help meet future electricity shortfalls and provide enough energy for 10,000 homes.

Speaking at the opening of the plant yesterday, Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said that energy access is a pathway for economic and social opportunity.

“This new solar power plant not only provides much-needed grid capacity for our people, it also proves that renewable energy can play a major role in the development of our country,” he said.

Masdar plant in Mauritania

The solar PV plant in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Photo via Masdar

Masdar’s CEO Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said renewable energy has the potential to be a major contributor to the energy mix in developing countries, where access to conventional energy is limited.

The company is developing other renewable energy projects, including a 6MW wind farm in the Seychelles and a project in Afghanistan to supply 600 homes with off-grid solar PV systems.

Masdar itself is a strategic government initiative to grow a renewable energy industry in Abu Dhabi and around the world. One of its most recognisable projects in Abu Dhabi is the planned low-carbon urban development known as Masdar City that’s currently being built.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic