Africa's enter new dawn as world’s largest hybrid solar/thermal plant is switched on in Burkina Faso

Construction of the plant, under the management of Wärtsilä, began 10 months ago by technology group Wärtsilä.

The new 15 MWp photovoltaic (“PV”) power plant located in Northern Burkina Faso was switched on in a grand ceremony earlier last week.

The solar power plant with close to 130,000 photovoltaic panels is one of the largest solar facilities in sub-Saharan Africa and will supply IAMGOLDEssakane SA, one of the largest privately-held companies in the Burkina Faso and produces 389,000 ounces of gold, with competitive and carbon-free electricity.

The 15MWp plant (“Essakane Solar”) will contribute to the existing 57 MW heavy fuel oil (“HFO”) power plant, effectively creating the largest hybrid PVHFO plant in the world.

Wärtsilä was selected by the global renewable energy independent power producer Total Eren SA and African Energy Management Platform (AEMP) to build a 15MWp solar PV plant for ts gold mine.

The mine is in a very isolated location and as a result is currently off-grid and relies solely on HFO.

The 15 MWp solar project is expected to reduce the mine’s fuel consumption by approximately 6m litres per year and reduce its annual CO2 emissions by nearly 18,500 tons.

“This project demonstrates the benefits of integrating renewable energy in the mining industry. We are looking to replicate this type of hybridisation, especially in Africa where mines cannot always rely on the national grid. Renewable energy coupled with either storage or thermal-based power generation represents a truly viable option for industrial consumers since it enables for competitive, reliable and clean power supply,”  said Fabienne Demol, Executive Vice-President - Global Head of Business Development, at Total Eren.

Moreover, Essakane Solar has engaged procedures to register carbon credits generated by the project at the United Nations program.

According to Stephen Letwin, the President and CEO of IAMGOLD Corporation, the transition to generating more energy from renewable sources has been central to IAMGOLD’s new energy strategy for several years now.

The government of Burkina Faso has been offering full support; making this project viable and bodes well for similar future projects.

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