Africa is embracing solar in all its forms, from off-grid to utility-scale, but the key has always been to secure financing for the projects on the continent. Senegal is the most recent African nation to get a solar boost, with financing commitments from Meridiam for utility-scale solar in the country.
The most recent announcement is that the French private investment firm is committing an estimated EUR 43 million to finance a 30 MW solar plant in Senegal. To provide such funding, Meridiam has been given a EUR 34.5 million loan from Proparco and the Belgian financial institution for development BIO.
The 30 MW Ten Merina PV plant is in the Thiès region, East of Dakar, and it shall be constructed by Eiffage and Solairedirect, a subsidiary of ENGIE, which are also both French companies. It is the second utility-scale solar plant that Meridiam has financed in Senegal, after providing funding for the Senergy solar plant, which is expected to be operational in early 2017.
“Developed in line with Meridian’s goals in Africa, this project is once again highly representative of the considerable attention that we pay to the impact of infrastructure investments,” commented Meridiam Founder and CEO Thierry Déau. “We are producing electricity at a low price and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, all while ensuring that local populations see these economic benefits.”
GreenWish is also constructing a 20 MW solar farm in Bokhol, Senegal, near the Mauritanian border. However, this project is being financially backed by Denham, rather than by Meridiam.
These utility scale projects are not the only solar installations making headlines in Senegal, as a number of off-grid PV projects are also being developed in more remote areas. Off-grid solar has been booming in Africa, as it offers affordable and reliable access to electricity for villages that had previously had little or no access to electricity.