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Somalia: Energy firm tackles solar power transition

A solar photovoltaic power plant recently commissioned by BECO is now operational in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Through this project, BECO, Somalia’s main electricity supplier, originally aimed to reduce the costs involved in importing fossil fuels for electricity production.

An added benefit is the reduction of CO2 emissions of the many diesel-powered generators it operates.

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The Mogadishu solar photovoltaic power plant has a capacity of 8MWp, which the company plans to increase to 100MWp, with an investment of $40 million.

Pending the expansion of the solar power plant by 2022, the utility will continue to rely on its power generators to supply the Somali capital.

According to BECO, the impact of the solar power plant is already being felt. However, the company’s chief engineer, Mohamud Farah pointed out: “Unless we have batteries to store electricity, we can’t stop using fossil fuels, and the cost per kilowatt-hour when we get to 100MWp will still depend on batteries.”

Potential solar and wind market in Somalia

BECO’s facilities provide a total of 35MW, compared to an estimated demand of 200MW. Somalia does not have a national electricity grid, which collapsed at the start of the civil war in 1991.

With the return of peace to the country, the electricity supply is provided by private companies.

Beco provides electricity in the cities of Mogadishu, Balad, Jowhar, Afgooye, Elasha, Kismayu, Barawe and Marka.

According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Somalia has an installed capacity of about 106MW, and the majority of power companies to date rely on diesel generators for electricity generation.

A recent study by the African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that Somalia has the highest renewable resource potential of all African nations, particularly in terms of onshore wind power, and that it could produce between 30,000 and 45,000MW.

Solar energy could potentially generate a surplus of 2,000kWh/m2. According to the World Bank’s 2018 report, more than 64% of the population has no access to electricity.

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, ESI-Africa.com and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto "The only way to predict the future is to create it". Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.