With the Green Climate Fund (GCF) investing U.S.$150 million in the Desert to Power G5 Financing Facility, the African Development Bank (AfDB)-led initiative is one step closer to powering up the Sahel region and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The objective of the Desert to Power initiative is to light up and power the Sahel region by building an electricity generation capacity of ten gigawatts through photovoltaic solar systems via public, private, grid and off-grid projects by 2030.
The facility consists of both public and private sector sub-projects, which will be implemented under three components. The first entails grid investments and investments in storage solutions to de-risk solar IPPs and pave way for the uptake of a regional solar market.
The second component entails the provision of concessional finance and guarantees for new solar independent power producer plants to add over 500 megawatts of solar energy generation capacity.
The third component involves technical assistance to support the creation of a clear and predictable environment for private sector solar investments and the development of an adequate capacity of national institutions in the G5 Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
‘It (Desert to Power G5 Financing Facility) will mobilise $966 million over a seven-year implementation period. The initiative is expected to lead to substantial CO2 emission reductions – projected at over 14.4 million tCO2equ’, a statement on the AfDB website read.
By harnessing its solar potential to create the world’s largest solar zone and turning the Sahel region into a renewable powerhouse, the Desert to Power initiative is expected to address various challenges hampering the development of the energy sector in the G5 Sahel countries.
Data from the GCF shows that the power sector in the aforementioned countries is characterized by low energy access rates, insufficient share of renewables in their generation mix and a steady growing energy demands that are being served in ways not always friendly to the environment.
Rural energy access rate for Chad and Mauritania is as low as two percent while electricity yearly demand growth is at nine percent and ten percent respectively.
Reacting to the GCF $150 million investment, the GCF Deputy Executive Director, Javier Manzanares said the project would change the lives of people across the Sahel.
‘The Desert to Power G5 Sahel Facility has the potential to make an enormous difference in people’s lives across the Sahel by tapping into the immense potential of solar energy, generating cheaper, reliable, and low-emission electricity’, the GCF Deputy Executive Director, Javier Manzanares, said.
‘GCF’s catalytic financing alongside that of the African Development Bank and the private sector will together mobilise nearly [one billion dollars] for this truly transformative project’.
The AfDB Vice President, Kevin Kariuki, also welcomed the GCF investment.
‘The Desert to Power G5 Sahel Facility is a significant shot in the arm for the Desert to Power initiative’, Kariuki said.
‘It [the project] will spur private sector investments in developing solar generation capacity in the G5 Sahel countries.
‘This will provide an opportunity to realise Dr Adesina’s and by extension the African Development Bank’s vision of the Desert to Power initiative as an integral part of the solution for tackling climate change in the Sahel. The timing of the approval is also perfect, coming just before COP26’.
Photo source: Tom Stahl