Solar the not so alternative energy

Ouagadougou March 26, 2012

Less than 3% of the population of Burkina Faso’s 11 million people have regular access to grid power, however seemingly twice that number have access to mobile phones and according to one telecommunication company almost 35% of the population will have network coverage by end 2012.

SOLIDEA’s Roland Montagnon explains that there is terrific opportunity for expansion here in West Africa practically everyone needs more energy and there is no alternative; for the time being it’s solar energy.

Recently ONEA the local PPP partnership providing water utility in Burkina Faso won a trans African prize for being the best run utility in Africa after providing water to an additional 2 million people, “there is a strong sense of success and its building valuable community in Burkina Faso, practically everyone strives for better normal living conditions” says Roland.

Apart from the mining industry Burkina Faso economy is almost entirely dependent on its migrated workers who have left to work in nearby Ivory Coast and Ghana and regularly send money home.

Burkina Faso has huge potential for developing its minerals industry and copper, gold, iron, phosphates and manganese are all thought plentiful. The lack of locally available energy and the availability of imported electricity from nearby Ghana limits the exploitation of those minerals. If energy was more readily available the exploitation of minerals could be accelerated and to greatly benefit to the local economy.

Rare earth minerals could bring incredible wealth to this region of Africa the mining business and its support industries means wealth also reaches the local communities.

Local industries already benefit from renewable energy because of the hydro electric projects located across the border in Ghana. There are grand designs already to develop Ghana hydro electric resources with solar power to provide for the current demand and to meet and enhance future growth and prosperity in the region.

SOLIDEA is in early planning for several small scale utility projects. “By combining solar and CHP Biomass we are able to create local micro utilities” says Martin Mizera of Bioleux who have a keen interest in this region working alongside SOLIDEA.

There are several schemes in the pipeline planning grid coverage for the whole of the country and it is thought that the best of these schemes will provide almost 3 times the current energy. One project at hand will ensure energy distribution where over 10% of the population will have regular access to the Burkina Faso National  Power Grid by 2020.

Given that the demand for energy is far greater than the grid can possibly supply; “off grid and micro networks have terrific potential the energy business has a very healthy future and we have very many project to pursue” says SOLIDEA’s Roland Montagnon