20 MW under construction in Senegal; 600 MW more in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020

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The commitment by these two enterprices will allow them to invest a combined $1 billion into Africa, according to the press release. Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian, CEO of GreenWish, told pv magazine that the platform targets all following projects: grid-connected solar and wind installations, solar hybrid solutions and off-grid systems. She added that “solar will represent the majority of our projects.”

20 MW PV plant in Senegal

GreenWish is already constructing a 20 MW solar PV farm at Bokhol, Senegal, near the Mauritanian border. Construction of the 20 MW Senergy II project started in February and will be the largest independent solar power generation project in sub-Saharan Africa when it is completed in October.

Furthermore, upon completion, Senergy II will receive a feed-in tariff that “was the outcome of a tender process lead by [Senegal’s] national utility,” said Aubin-Kalaidjian, who was unwilling to reveal the tariff price.

GreenWish is developing the 20 MW PV farm in collaboration with French construction group Vinci. Denham Capital will provide the additional backing, and “aims to build on this first success and provide power capacity to other parts of the continent.”

African PV: subsidies or no subsidies?

Gilles Parmentier, chief investment officer at GreenWish, said the company focuses “on countries where renewable energy projects offer a competitive solution to the power gap, without subsidies.” For this reason, Parmentier expanded, "GreenWish is looking at both on and off-grid projects in a number of countries and aims at offering B2B solar hybrid solutions to energy intensive industries, including telecom operators, mining and commercial off-takers."

With such a challenging business model, pv magazine asked Aubin-Kalaidjian how such projects can become profitable. “We focus on countries where solar is a competitive source of power in the energy mix,” Aubin-Kalaidjian replied. “It is usually the case in countries highly reliant on fuel power.” In Senegal for example, she expanded, “the tariff of our 20 MW plant comes at a discount of 40% to the country energy mix cost, representing a saving of $5million per year for the utility and the government.”