The landlocked nation’s €137 million Yeleen project – which comprises four 52 MW solar arrays – will be implemented under the AfDB’s Desert to Power initiative. The European Union and Agence Française de Développement will also back the project, alongside Burkinabé state-owned utility Sonabel.
Burkina Faso has one of the lowest electricity-access rates in the world, according to the AfDB. The four PV installations that make up the Yeleen project will provide electricity to 200,000 people in 30,000 households upon completion, added the lender.
“This project will augment the bank’s efforts to ensure inclusive access to energy through improvements in rural electrification, regional interconnections and energy sector reforms,” said Wale Shonibare, AfDB acting VP for power, energy, climate change and green growth. “Notably, it will increase Burkina Faso’s generation capacity by 15%, which will greatly help to reduce Burkina Faso’s reliance on fossil fuel imports.”
Daniel Schroth, AfDB acting director for renewable energy and energy efficiency, said that in addition to solar, the Desert to Power initiative includes plans to upgrade electricity transmission and distribution networks. The Yeleen project capacity will be connected to the Burkinabé national grid, added the bank. The Desert to Power scheme also aims to facilitate the development of mini-grids to improve rural access to electricity.
In October, power producer Total Eren and miner Nordgold announced plans to build a 13 MW solar project backed by a battery storage system with an undisclosed capacity. Nordgold said construction would likely begin in the fourth quarter of next year, near its Bassi and Bouly mines.
Burkina Faso has very little installed PV generation capacity. By the end of last year, the country’s solar capacity stood at just 62 MW, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.