Gambia seeks consultants for 150 MW solar-plus-storage project


The West African Power Pool of the Economic Community of West African States has issued two tenders for consultants for the development of a 150 MW solar power plant which could be linked to energy storage.

The regional power grid, through a tender which closes its expressions-of-interest phase on September 21, is seeking consultants to draw up an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the solar park. A separate procurement exercise, which closes its first phase on October 5, aims to secure a transaction advisor to design an auction to allocate one or more independent power producers to finance, construct and operate the PV plant.

The project has been under development by the government of Gambia since October, when work started on a feasibility study for the facility. The project is expected to sell power to utility the National Water & Electricity Company Ltd and is likely to be built on a 225ha site near a 225/30 kV substation in Soma, which is part of the Gambia River Basin Development Organization energy project.

The solar plant, which may be coupled with 20 MWh of energy storage capacity for grid stabilization purposes, is expected to be built in two phases. A first, 80 MW unit is scheduled for completion next year and a second, 70 MW section is planned to come online in 2025.

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The site’s energy storage capacity may be increased, depending on grid needs. The government said last year: “According to preliminary estimates, the 150 MWp GambiaSolar Park will be combined with between 100 and 150 MWh of battery [capacity].”

Gambia had only 2 MW of solar generation capacity at the end of 2019, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Its 2 million people can call upon only 102 MW of total power generation capacity. The Gambian electricity network consists mainly of mini-grids which the government hopes to improve by transforming into hybrid facilities which include renewables generation.

With an electricity access rate of only 35%, Gambia introduced a Renewable Energy Act to promote clean energy in 2013.

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