Senegal wind farm
Phase one of Lekela's Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye wind farm in Senegal. Image: Lekela.

Senegal is about to investigate its first grid-scale battery energy storage system thanks to the United States Trade and Development Agency funding a feasibility study in partnership with Senelec.

The study will focus on how to increase grid stability and integrate intermittent renewable energy into national electricity company Senelec’s grid. The battery will be located at renewable power generation company Lekela’s 158,7MW Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye (PETN) project. PETN is the first utility-scale wind farm in Senegal.

This project is one of the first stand-alone battery energy storage projects built by an independent power producer in the country and the first large-scale application of a battery storage system in Senegal. The study should take about 10 months. It will provide the technical, economic, legal and environmental analysis necessary to implement and operate a battery storage system.

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If the system then does go ahead, it would help manage variable renewable energy generation in Senegal, paving the way for further wind and solar projects in the country.

Right now Senegal has an installed capacity of 864MW, mostly from thermal generation sources and an energy access rate of 64%. The country’s government is aiming for universal access by 2025 through on and off-grid solutions. Senegal has high wind and solar potential, as well as the opportunity to explore off-shore gas resources.

Energy storage is about more than just electricity need

Lekela chief executive Chris Antonopoulos says if successful, this battery storage system project has the potential to catapult Senegal to the forefront of renewable energy usage in modern-day grids. “Wind power has been deployed for decades in some countries, yet only months after turning on Senegal’s first wind farm, we are now investigating how to integrate battery storage to the site. We’re delighted that the USTDA has awarded a grant to Lekela to advance this project in partnership with Senelec, which will be one of the largest battery IPPs in Africa,” he explained.

The global market for energy storage is expected to grow exponentially over the next five years, supported by intensive technological development in the recent past. It is also a booming sector because of climate change mitigation needs and the volatile nature of fossil fuels, but its growth in Africa is faced by a skills gap to address potential localisation. The lack of policy commitment as energy storage systems are still not drawn into legislation covering energy matters is also hindering investment into utility-scale storage in Africa.

Senegal addressing more than energy poverty

Once completed by the end of 2020, PETN will deliver 158,7MW of clean, renewable wind power to more than 2 million people in Senegal. The wind farm forms a critical part of Senelec’s future energy mix and is part of the government’s Emerging Senegal Plan. The wind farm will also address the country’s greenhouse gas emissions as it should mitigate the release of 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Antonopoulos pointed out PETN’s position as West Africa largest wind places Senegal at the forefront of African countries committed to the development of renewable energy: “It’s fantastic to be involved in furthering this progress through this project.”

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PETN created 400 employment opportunities during construction and has deployed a broader socio-economic programme in the Taiba N’Diaye area. The projects to improve local agriculture, provide vocational training opportunities and refurbish or build local infrastructure is the start of a 20-year programme that will invest up to $20 million into the area over the lifetime of the wind farm. Already a new marketplace has been constructed for the Taiba N’Diaye farming community and a new IT centre has been built for the local schoolchildren.

The Emerging Senegal Plan is Senegal’s framework for economic and social policy in the medium and long term.