National utility Société Nationale d’électricité du Burkina Faso (SONABEL) has welcomed a US$950,000 grant to help drive the development of the Windiga 20 MW solar PV power plant.

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa awarded the money to support advisory activities required to close the deal financially including the structuring of a 25-year power purchase agreement with SONABEL, reports the African Development Bank.

The Windiga solar project, the first such private sector-led independent power producer (IPP) scheme, will design, construct and operate the solar power plant in the Boucle du Mouhoun area, in the west of the country.

The project will use polycrystalline photovoltaic (PV) panels installed over 40 hectares.

Increasing consumption

Energy demand in Burkina Faso has increased at an annual rate of over 10 per cent in the past five years and resulted in a widening supply gap across the country.

The installed capacity as of 2013 equalled 247 MW, out of which 215 MW is supplied by thermal power, according to SONABEL activities’ report.

Hydropower in the country has limited potential and is excessively dependent on irregular rainfall pattern.

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