Gabon gets eight hybrid solar power plants

Africa-focused energy company ENGIE has signed an agreement with CDC, the Gabonese financial institution Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, to deploy eight hybrid solar power plants in Gabon, with a combined capacity of 2.2 megawatts.

The project, which begins in a few weeks, is expected to contribute to the Gabonese Republic’s proactive policy of using renewable energy – solar and hydropower – to increase the country’s energy capacities. The project will save the country 1 million litres of fuel per year, or 2,600 tonnes of CO2, and reduce generation costs by 30 percent, a statement by ENGIE said.

A report by the Oxford Business Group (OBG) had noted that demand for electricity in Gabon is growing by up to 5 percent per year, hence the government’s commitment to increase its capacity. The government had earlier embarked on upgrading older dams and construction of new ones. Hydro-electric dams currently account for only about 9 percent of all energy production in the Central African country. Most production in the country comes from the use of petroleum or from biomass and waste.

A government official had in March announced that Gabon was planning to increase overall electrical power production from 374 MW to 1200 MW by 2020. The government had in a 2014 Policy Letter for Universal Access for Basic Services in Rural Areas noted that it targeted providing electricity for 85 percent of rural areas by 2025 and achieving universal access to electricity for its population of around 1.7 million by 2035.

The new solution which will add 2.2MW was developed by ENGIE’s subsidiary, Ausar Energy in collaboration with CDC, the Gabonese Ministry of Energy, and the Gabonese energy and water company Société d’Énergie et d’Eau du Gabon (SEEG) and means that solar energy can be used in eight locations that are currently supplied by oil-fired thermal power stations.

Ausar Energy offers the African continent a hybrid solar power plant solution, with or without storage facilities, with capacities ranging from 50 kW to 2.5 MW. This solution is in line with ENGIE Group’s strategy of promoting decentralised generation and distribution of electricity from renewable sources. This strategic priority is designed to ensure continuous access to energy in isolated areas that are not and cannot be connected to grids, as well as to limit the consumption of fuel oil, manage costs and reduce pollution.