Burkina faso solar energy

A successful transition to solar energy in Burkina Faso

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, one of the key topics is the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Burkina Faso aims, in accordance with the commitments made in Paris, to succeed in its transition to solar energy.

Since 2016, Burkina Faso started its energy transition by taking advantage of the country’s strong solar potential. Several homes and public administrations have abandoned thermal energy for photovoltaic energy to reduce not only consumption costs, but especially greenhouse gas emissions. But the energy crisis in the country is not new.

For several years, the country has lived at the rate of incessant blackouts that extend over several hours, especially during the hottest period (April-July). In the country, people do not hesitate to qualify thermal energy by “current play of light” because of the frequent breakdowns. This situation is not without consequences for households and businesses, which most often use private diesel generators to produce electricity in addition to grid electricity, thus generating significantly higher carbon emissions. 

But since the liberalization of the energy sector in 2017, businesses and households have found a solution: solar energy. 

In Ouagadougou and in the interior of the country, thermal energy is gradually giving way to solar energy. “More reliable with less risk of load shedding,”  there are no official figures at this time on the number of households and businesses powered exclusively by solar energy. However, according to Inoussa, a local specialist who has set up a company selling solar energy equipment in the capital, “The advantage of solar energy is that it is accessible to consumers who have a low budget. With sometimes 200 euros, you can buy yourself a small connection to take advantage of the electricity.”

If Burkina Faso’s energy policy becomes increasingly solar-oriented, it will be because the country wants to respect the commitments it made at COP21. On this occasion, the Burkinabé delegation affirmed its firm desire to develop photovoltaics so that 30% of national electricity consumption is derived from solar energy.

This will allow the country to considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will make it possible to fight against climate change,” analyzes Dimitri Wendpayangdé Tientega, engineer in Applied Solar Technologies, Managing Partner of the company PIC ENERGIE SARL.

Burkina Faso has more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year

If the Government makes the strategic option of taking advantage of the country’s strong solar potential, it is because it aims to improve energy availability and produce “clean” energy, according to the Ministry of Energy. This department specifies that “Burkina Faso has more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and this produces 5.5 kWh / m2 / d. Public buildings have adopted the dynamic thanks to the Ministry of Energy, which has undertaken a goal, since 2018, to equip public and socio-community infrastructures with solar photovoltaic systems in order to facilitate their transition to green energies. This will also enable them to ensure permanent availability of electricity and reduce their energy bill. 781 health and social promotion centers (CSPS), primary and post-primary schools and literacy centers; 18 Hospital Centers and 01 District Hospital; 34 medical centers; 13 penitentiary centers; 6 military camps and 7 universities are concerned. 240 solar water heaters have been installed in the CSPSs and 2,474 street lamps for public lighting in rural communities and public buildings. 

“While ensuring the continuity of the public electricity service, these mechanisms provide an effective response to the problems of the energy sector and will above all support Burkina Faso in its confirmed transition to green energies for its socioeconomic development ,” declared Mr. Tientega. According to him, given the fact that Burkina Faso, a Sahelian country, is hit hard by climate change, strong measures in terms of adaptation and mitigation to the effects of climate change must be taken to accelerate the energy transition.

Solar is a very saving solution. In reality, turning to solar energy is giving the chance to restore thousands of forests, it is giving species the chance to survive, it is giving the opportunity to maintain the rate of warming in accordance with the Paris conference ”,In its economic and social development plan, Burkina Faso has planned the construction of several solar power plants, the most emblematic of which is that of Zagtouli. With an effective power of 33.7 megawatts-peak representing 4% of Burkinabè’s annual electricity consumption, the plant is the equivalent of the consumption of 660,000 people and its economic cost of production is estimated between 30 and 40 FCFA. / kWh. A cost significantly lower than the average production cost of the National Electricity Company of Burkina Faso (Sonabel), which stood at 133 FCFA per kWh in 2016, according to the French Development Agency which financed the project.

Avoid compromising our future

From an environmental and social point of view, the Zagtouli solar power plant has so far saved 26,000 tonnes of CO2, according to project officials. Besides Zagtouli, Burkina has launched the “Yeleen” (light) program to build a series of solar power plants, taking advantage of its strong sunshine. “ As part of this program, the construction of new 20 and 10 MW solar power plants has been launched in the towns of Koudougou and Kaya. Six other photovoltaic solar power plants with a cumulative capacity of 176 MW are in the pipeline“, Indicated those in charge of the project. However, Burkina Faso still depends on the outside, in particular China to equip itself with solar panels. 

In September 2020, the country inaugurated its first solar panel production and assembly plant, the first in West Africa. At a cost of 3.2 billion CFA francs and called “Faso Energy”, this plant, built in the industrial zone of Kossodo, on the northern outskirts of Ouagadougou, will have a daily production of 200 solar panels. According to the promoter of Faso. Energy, Moussa Kouanda, annual production will install a power of 30 megawatts, or 3% of the country’s consumption. On the occasion of the launch of this factory, the head of the Burkinabè government, Christophe Dabiré underlined the importance of“The use of renewable resources, to avoid compromising our future”. “We will be able to offer our fellow citizens low-cost energy, and ensure that they can contribute to the economic and social development of the country, ” he said.

Commitments for green energies

During the world climate summit which is inexorably drawing to a close, the question of the transition to green energies emerged as crucial in view of its many advantages: little or no greenhouse gas emissions, which helps slow global warming and keep the environment cleaner for longer. Conversely, fossil fuels, according to scientists, produce high levels of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, contributing in an increased way to global warming, climate change and the degradation of the quality of the earth. air. In its Nationally Determined Contribution (CDN) 2021-2025, the Burkinabè State undertakes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 31682.3Gg by 2030, i.e. 29.42% compared to the scenario of reference.“Developing countries need around $ 1,100 billion a year to fight climate change and ensure the transition to clean energy”, said the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). 

In addition, around 90% of emissions could come from developing countries, but 20% of investments in clean energy go to them. populations and the planet (GEAPP) was launched with a fund of $ 10 billion. This fund will provide renewable energy to 1 billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In addition, the heads of state of the G20 countries – which account for nearly 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse – have pledged to stop subsidizing new coal-fired power plants abroad by the end of the year. We also note that 28 new members have joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a coalition of governments, companies and organizations whose ambition is to advance the transition from electricity production to coal without release towards clean energy. 

The number of members of this Alliance has now grown to 165 countries, cities, regions and companies. 44 countries and 32 companies and regions are committed to switching from coal to clean energy. All these initiatives should make it possible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees rather than 2 degrees beyond which “It would be catastrophic” , according to scientists.

We need concrete commitments

According to the Ecofin agency, the technology and financing necessary to achieve climate goals already exist, but the political will does not follow. This is why the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been mandated by the presidency of COP 26 to monitor climate action, and is planning coercive measures to go faster. IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol announced that countries that default on their climate commitments will receive warnings in 2023, at the next UN climate summit. “The announcements here in Glasgow are encouraging, but far from sufficient. The emissions gap remains a devastating threat. The financing and adaptation gap represents a flagrant injustice for the developing world ”,UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the high-level Global Climate Action event. “We need concrete commitments,” he concluded.

This story was originally published on Le Monde Rural, with the support of Climate Tracker.

Daouda Kinda
Daouda KINDA is a young Burkinabè journalist born in Ouahigouya in northern Burkina Faso. He’s published on several topics related to politics, economy and society, but has been focusing on environmental and agricultural news for the past 3 years. Currently, he works for Le Quotidien, a Burkinabè general information medium, where he leads the environment desk.